Emma Ruth Rundle’s forthcoming Engine of Hell is stark, intimate, and unflinching. For anyone that’s endured trauma and grief, there’s a beautiful solace in hearing Rundle articulate and humanize that particular type of pain not only with her words, but with her particular mysterious language of melody and timbre. The album 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,” and when Rundle finally sings, every syllable guided with the utmost intention, she unleashes the ominously cryptic opening lines “A rich belief that no one sees you / Your ribbon cut from all the fates and / Some hound of Hell looking for handouts / The breath between things no one says.” The ambiguity may obscure the muse, but it doesn’t diminish its heaviness.
“Return” is available today via Sargent House and comes accompanied with a striking and introspective video directed by Rundle herself. 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 it’s 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.”