Lulled into a timeless dream

It has been a long time coming, but good things reward those who wait.

I first heard Los Angeles-based Aussie Ry Cuming, who goes by the more cryptic moniker RY X, when I chanced upon his four-track Berlin EP back in 2013.

That voice - an androgynous falsetto rightly compared with Bon Iver's, but one that never breaks - was the star. It floated through the night sky, like a satellite on its lonely orbit and, before you could get close to it, it evaporated.

Three years later and that gorgeous voice is given full rein in Dawn, Cuming's full studio debut as RY X. Two exquisite songs remain from the EP - the title track and Shortline - and they fit seamlessly into a hazy, ephemeral spell.

Sure, the au courant melding of alternative R&B, electronica and indie folk has already yielded heroes such as Iver and James Blake, but it is testament to Cuming's gift that he sounds distinct enough, often rapt in its own tussle between desire and devotion.


  • DAWN

    RY X

    Loma Vista

    4/5 stars

"We let love be water to wine/We let love be the higher design/We let love be a call in the night/We let love the fire divine," goes the refrain in Salt.

Buffered by mellifluous acoustic strums, the melody takes flight on fluttering synths and plangent piano plinks.

The tactile quality is enhanced by the assiduous ways in which Cuming builds spaces and mirrors for his voice to refract.

"You had me howling," he sings, unharried, riding on the rhythm in Howling. Elsewhere, in Only, the voice is tossed around, ricocheting off one's consciousness before coming next to your ear.

The sudden proximity unsettles, especially when one is lulled into a timeless dream. Listen to Beacon, which begins with a string ensemble. Cuming intones, "I fall into your mind's eye", slowly submerged into a sea of white noise and atonal synths.

Haste ups the pace, heart pulsating over a motorik beat, but it is Deliverance which comes closest to a dance revelry, in a four-on-the- floor beat that never totally loses control - and all the better for it.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2016, with the headline 'Lulled into a timeless dream'. Print Edition | Subscribe