Album Review: ing by ing
Richmond based ing’s self-titled five-song debut EP exists in an artistic space often coveted amongst underground musicians — one where sound experimentation and songwriting prowess meet to make for a listening experience that is both sonically challenging and musically accessible. Released on September 30th of this year through Citrus City Records, ing stands as an exemplar of how a record’s production, or lack thereof, can become as essential to its songs’ effectiveness as the notes and rhythms that make up the bare-bones of each composition.
“Lo-fi” is the first term that comes to mind upon hearing the inceptive hiss of the EP’s opening track, “Sheep,” interrupted at the two second mark by four muted scratches on lead singer Hannah Balesi’s guitar. The entire EP is distant, as though you’re listening from upstairs while the band sound checks in the basement. A lo-fi album runs the risk of sounding more like a demo than an official release, but ing combats this with clearly fleshed out arrangements characterized by jagged, dragging drums, fast, arpeggiated guitar lines, and tight, song-serving bass lines — none of which sound as though they were written the day before recording. With that being said, “Fair Wind” opens with the question “how many numbers are you counting off,” to which Balesi replies, “four,” before doing just that… so I could be completely wrong, in which case, kudos to the band for executing such a tight performance on newly fleshed out songs.
Aside from the minimal production, the experimental aspects of the EP that the band references in the album notes are hard to pin down. It’s written that “ing is composed of only notes and no chords,” but this detail would probably fall under the radar if it weren’t pointed out. The more striking original aspect of the EP is probably the fast rate at which the band changes directions, as showcased in songs like “Dust,” where the song, in one moment, drifts and floats along with Balesi’s soft vocal delivery and arpeggiated guitar, and in the next, jolts, halts, and lurches with drummer Will Mulaney’s stuttered rhythm parts, complimented by bassist Garen Dorsey’s steady lines. The unconventional nature of the songs’ rhythmic composition makes the lo-fi production choice seem as though there could be no other effective option. Much like the flow of the songs, the recording is not perfectly clean, not perfectly clear, and serves the EP perfectly well.
ing is an intriguing release from a group of up-and-coming, talented musicians who, we hope, have much more music planned for us in the future. ing manages to stand out from other experimental groups by placing more emphasis on songwriting than the presentation of said songs, while still packaging the tunes in raw, but appropriate, forms. This self-titled EP serves as a strong debut, and a significant step forward in Richmond’s ever-active journey towards sonic diversity.
ing is available now through the band’s Bandcamp site. The band plays next on Friday, October 26th at Gallery5 alongside Guerilla Toss, Bermuda Triangles, COQ, and Aesthetic B.