Late Greats: Boundless & Starstruck

f56802k52joI have a soft spot for good instrumental rock, which probably explains why I don’t listen to much jazz or classical music. Boundless & Starstruck was a one-off non-profit benefit project from musical renaissance man Kevin Ratterman, probably best known as the drummer for Louisville ambient-core stalwarts Elliott. Boundless is a pretty good indication of what Ratterman brought to that band. From what I can tell, he was probably one of the two main architects of the band’s unique sound, and this record serves to document his ideas in their pre-False Cathedrals form.

There’s an overall lazy, meaning unhurried, feel to the songs here. While they pick up the tempo in a few places, Ratterman’s overall approach is to begin with a  melodic seed and let it blossom in non-linear fasion, and the aura created is mystical in a pastoral sort of way. The album always retains a slightly magical feel, stars bursting in the fringes.

Many of the songs come off as dream soundtracks, such as the stunner “To Watch One Sleep” and the regal “The Knight Shines.” More mournful tracks like “Death & Dying” and “Jay” maintain a nostalgic joy that keep them from ever ranging into the downer territory that can be a problem with this type of music. The closer, “Purple Azure”, is a quite literal example of the “painting with notes” style of musical impressionism that Ratterman seems to have been channeling the whole time, as he layers stroke after vivid stroke of ambient color over the simple opening guitar riff.

I don’t know that this record is still out there for consumption, but it remains one of my top Louisville records, hands down. While Ratterman did some great stuff in the Elliott collective, Boundless & Starstruck demonstrates that he’s a pretty formidable musical force all by his lonesome. It would be great to see another release from him one of these days.

Anyone else wanna give a shout out to this great record?

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