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Rivulets | Debridement (Chair Kicker's Union)
Rivulets haven't moved anywhere in particular since their self-titled 2002 debut album, but 'Debridement' shows them glancing inwards, digging deeper into the hole they've carved out for themselves. And while the reference points are many and obvious - Low, Remora, Spokane, et al - main man Nathan Amundson is not to be mistaken for anyone else but himself, singing with a fragile beauty, playing with an enigmatic, ethereal whisper, pulling the songs out of him as if they refuse to be removed completely from the soul of the man that spawned them. As the title implies, these are songs that have been cut off from their origins, singing these songs equals the painful surgical removal of skin; the painful process of realisation, unveiling dark truths through harmful cutting. The subject matter is heavy, but Amundson ensures there's a sense of intimate beauty to be found here as well, singing these mournful songs in that careful, considered voice of his. The music is so stripped-down you'll have to struggle to stay with it, but the songs have several layers beneath the dirge, they reveal complexity beneath monotony, corresponding with Amundson's voice, strong but often indiscernible, a whispered scream. Expanding upon the textures that made his first album such a compelling listen, 'Debridement' is a demanding but rewarding affair, a beautiful testimony to the value and validity of insecurity, discomfort, and the hope in salvation through music.

Stein Haukland
March-April 2003