This week at Good Music Matters, we are covering the solo works of a truly excellent and multi-talented singer, songwriter and musician. Emma Ruth Rundle has dedicated years to a number of musical projects, each differing in tone, complexity, genre, mood and texture. She has been a member of not one but four bands – The Nocturnes, Red Sparowes, The Headless Prince of Zolpidem and Marriages – and still continues to tour as part of these bands. With a discography as plentiful and eclectic as this stashed under her belt, Emma Ruth Rundle has released her second solo album Marked For Death, and it is clearly one of her most personal outputs yet.
Emma Ruth Rundle
Born in Los Angeles, California, Emma Ruth Rundle began her professional music career in the mid-2000s as a guitarist in Red Sparowes, an instrumental band whose brooding brand of post-rock channels the earlier works of Mogwai. Around this time, Rundle began to release music with The Nocturnes; a band that she founded with Red Sparowes drummer Dave Clifford (eventually joined by supporting members Julian Rifkin and Paris Pratt). The music she produced with The Nocturnes was described as ‘folkgaze’ – containing the slow percussive rhythms and thick, sleepy reverb of shoegaze, and the gentle guitars and honey-sweet hushed vocals present in folk music, glossed over with a dreamlike ambience.
In 2011, Emma Ruth Rundle seemed to decide that two bands simply weren’t enough, and there was a box in her creative repertoire that needed to be ticked. The result of this was the formation of heavier outfit Marriages with Dave Clifford on drums (yet again) and multi-instrumentalist Greg Burns. Instrumentally, Marriages lie between Toundra and Caspian. Drums are very much a focus of their sound, but Emma Ruth Rundle’s melodic vocals add a raw and emotive layer to an otherwise dark strain of alternative rock. 2013’s dreamy Somnambulent, a principally instrumental album with vocal samples released by enigmatic project The Headless Prince of Zolpidem has also been credited to Emma Ruth Rundle. Her vocals can faintly be heard in places, yet the exact involvement of Rundle herself or any others in the project is widely unknown.
Two years ago, Emma Ruth Rundle wowed fans and critics alike with her debut LP, titled Some Heavy Ocean. The album appeared to amalgamate elements of her previous works – the title track could have easily appeared on Somnambulent, whereas ‘Savage Saint’ has the folk leanings of The Nocturnes and ‘Run Forever’ sees a lot more of Marriages’ influence. What distinguished Some Heavy Ocean from the rest of Rundle’s catalogue, was the sheer power of her vocals to transform the album into something affective and moving. Her voice truly came into its own during her live performance at ArcTanGent Festival in 2015 – and despite clashing with one of the headliners, crowds flocked from all over the site to hear Emma Ruth Rundle’s solo set.
Alternative folk singer-songwriter Emma Ruth Rundle is our Band of the Week at Good Music Matters. We can’t get enough of her new album Marked For Death, so if you’re thinking of giving it a listen, check out our review here. We have also compiled a playlist of our favourite Emma Ruth Rundle tracks (Marriages, Red Sparowes et al) – so if you’ve exhausted her solo discography or find yourself looking for something similar, you can listen here.