The latest release from singer and multi-instrumentalist Kris Force’s Amber Asylum, Bitter River is no shocker to followers of Force’s work. Like Jarboe on Xanax, Force’s brooding but consonant work is peaceful and pastoral, lacking percussion and driven mostly by rhythm figures on guitar, melancholy keyboard lines, heaving strings and Force’s breathy, wavering mezzo-soprano.

So Bitter River is mood music, and moody music at that. Channeling an atmosphere and a feeling, the neo-renaissance (calling it neo-classical would be mislabeling it by about 100 years) record is more suggestive of a film score or a mixed media project than a standalone work. It’s music to sit and grok to, it pulls your ear and inevitably your attention, while never screaming for it.

Not recommended while operating heavy machinery.

In A Word: Limpid

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