Nashville multi-instrumentalist Michael “Rich” Ruth spent most of the 2010s plugging away in the brass-driven psych-rock band Kansas Bible Company while steadily developing his chops as a player and a producer. In 2018 he began developing an ambient music practice working out of a home studio, but from the start he funneled in a wide variety of ideas, borrowing tropes from spiritual jazz, new age, minimalism, and German Kosmische influences. The transition wasn’t always easy. In 2019 he was robbed at gunpoint outside his home, and the following year his neighborhood was battered by a destructive tornado while the pandemic locked social activity down.
He managed to release his first album in 2019, but those difficult life experiences helped solidify the more assured and varied instrumental grooves he sculpted with a select crew of regular collaborators on his 2022 album, the aptly titled I Survived, It’s Over. Over the course of seven shape-shifting jams he meticulously layers various keyboards and synthesizer patterns over expansive rhythmic foundations crafted with drummer Reuben Gingrich and double bassist Cameron Carrus. Several additional horn players ply those head-nodding frameworks with flinty improvisations derived from Impulse Records titles from the early 1970s, but there’s more to the brew than exploratory jazz.
If it weren’t for the abundance of extended saxophone and pedal steel solos draped over the taut pocket at the music’s center one might call the music a modern-day take on post-rock—not for nothing did Ruth enlist John McEntire of Tortoise to mix the album—but he never gets too comfortable within any given style; the music’s rhythmic profile is too elastic and shape-shifting and the jazzy cadences too liquid to fit that description. A cosmic country sound defined by Whit Wright’s pedal steel and a spaced-out ambience emanating from the leader’s gauzy keyboard patterns cement the music’s delightful genre agnosticism. But no matter how you slice it, the sounds are enveloping, a warm sonic bath to drift away upon.