Ryan Vail – “Free”

The duo of Ryan Vail and Katie Cosgrove (collectively known as Ryan Vail) make for an unusual pairing, the former a turntablist, hip-hop and drum and bass fan, and tinkering producer, the latter a flautist and music teacher. Sometimes strange musical bedfellows make the best partners, and curious new single “Free” is no exception.

Like the lighter side of Nine Inch Nails‘ propulsive industrial dance floor designs, “Free” presses along, propelled by scuttling percussion, piano chords that seem to echo far into the ether, and Vail’s understated, monotone vocals: “We used to be one/But now I’m free.” Slowly, subtly, the production evolves, adding layers of synths, strings, and all sorts of otherworldly sounds, taking care to never overwhelm Vail, swelling like a distant sunrise before  coming to a sudden halt, just short of fully bubbling over. “Free” exhibits a quiet ambition that taps into a number of influences without wearing anyone too prominently on its sleeve, intelligent by design and and intriguing in execution.