Emma Ruth Rundle announces new record, Engine Of Hell, out on November 5th via Sargent House
Emma Ruth Rundle has always been a multifaceted musician, equally capable of dreamy abstraction – as heard on her debut record Electric Guitar: One –, maximalist textural explorations – see her work in Marriages, Red Sparowes, Nocturnes or collaborations with Chelsea Wolfe and Thou -, and the classic acoustic guitar singer-songwriter tradition – exemplified by Some Heavy Ocean. But on her forthcoming new record, Engine of Hell, Rundle focuses on an instrument that she left behind in her early twenties when she began playing in bands: the piano. In combination with her voice, the piano playing on Engine of Hell creates a kind of intimacy, as if we’re sitting beside Rundle on the bench or perhaps even playing the songs ourselves. Sonically she captures the imperfection and the vulnerability of humanity. “Here are some very personal songs; here are my memories; here is me teetering on the very edge of sanity dipping my toe into the outer reaches of space and I’m taking you with me and it’s very f****d up and imperfect”. The instrument of Rundle’s childhood is the perfect vehicle for a record that is essentially a collection of memories from her youth, though one doesn’t need to dig too deep to realise Engine of Hell isn’t some saccharin nostalgia trip. As the record progresses, it becomes apparent that it is more memoir than pure poetry.
“For me this album is the end of an era to the end of a decade of making records. Things DO have to change and have changed for me since I finished recording it”. In essence, Engine of Hell signifies a major turning point for Rundle as both an artist and as a person. The catharsis of this type of songwriting has effectively served its purpose, and to continue ruminating on the past going forward is less of a healing process and more like picking at a scab and refusing to let it heal. This may help explain why Rundle is less than enthusiastic about divulging the details about her muses, but it doesn’t alter the fact that these songs served a purpose in their creation, and that they may continue to bring comfort to others. This new offering is intimate and unflinching, and for anyone that’s endured trauma and grief, there’s a beautiful solace in hearing Rundle articulate and humanise that particular type of pain not only with her words, but with her particular mysterious language of melody and timbre. The record captures a moment where a masterful songwriter strips away all flourishes and embellishments in order to make every note and word hit with maximum impact, leaving little to hide behind.
A gentle melancholy piano line introduces album opener and lead single “Return”, the single that is made available today and comes accompanied with a striking and introspective video directed by Rundle herself – and which you can watch below this article. The visual was heavily inspired by Jean Cocteau’s ‘Orpheus’ and Wim Wenders’ ‘Wings of Desire’, and gives nods to other films and images. Of “Return”, Rundle unfolds, “An examination of the existential. A fractured poem. Trying to quantify what something is definitely about or pontificating on its concrete meaning defeats the purpose of art making. I’m not a writer. I make music and images to express things that my words cannot convey or emote. I’ve been studying ballet and the practice of expression through movement, which I incorporated into the video. I choreographed a dance to the song – some of which you see. Pieces show through. Since completing ‘Engine of Hell’, I’ve stepped away from music more and more and into things like dance, painting and working on ideas for videos or little films. ‘Return’ is the result of the efforts”.
Engine of Hell will be released on November 5th via Sargent House. Physical and digital pre-orders are available here.
Photo credit: George Clarke