Ryan Vail and his musical partner Katie Cosgrove have a way with austere soundscapes. Their latest track, "Grow," begins with stark simplicity: the crackling of a needle resting on a vinyl groove. It's a symbolic signifier: a story, much like a record, will soon play out. The song's pulse--a steady, if somber, thump--beats for a minute-and-a-half before Vail's subterranean baritone lays the narrative. "Grow is very personal," he says. "The track, and the Grow EP, was written about a friend that passed away suddenly. The project covers the various stages of his journey to death, from telling people he was dying, dealing with it himself, questioning God and finally understanding what was happening." You don't know what I've been told/Every day that we get old/My life fades, it's hard to say goodbye, Vail half-whispers, half sings, as reverse percussion samples clank underneath like a structure's hollow pipes and beams slowly caving. We know the story's end from here. Still, "Grow" is a grievous track that quietly commands you listen something fierce.
Ryan Vail's Grow EP is set for release on May 5th via Champion Sound Music.