a small space between two thoughts, opening, slowly.
wyckoff and summerfield, cold streets, warm dances.
finding myself, in the jungle, in my mind, in you.
How does one really count the steps in a journey? There’s the movement itself, your balance, pacing and gait; there’s the world you pass through, and the vistas that stretch out before you; but from the moment you embark to the moment you settle in place, the trip is an experience in passing through. Looking back at the path taken, the horizon stretches out from your route on both sides, a million possibilities shifting around your chosen route.
Ronan’s journey has seen him move between Boston and New York, Washington State, Bogota, and most recently Mexico City. Rarely in one place for too long, his energy and enthusiasm for his craft carry that same roving sense of adventure, whether in his own expressive productions welding hyper-speed techno and classic hardcore into a dynamic whole, or through his Eternal Ocean imprint, which has notched a string of impressive releases from close friends and like-minded producers. Throughout, a sense of wide-eyed wonder and joy is the constant, an awe for its ability to transport and transcend, to become a calling in its own right, through sound and soul, a grounding force that becomes the guiding path through the world.
It’s that sense of possibility that dominates the sensibility of Vision Quest, Ronan’s second outing on Eternal Ocean, a four track offering recorded in Ridgewood, Queens just before he headed west in 2018. The tracks echo this awareness of a road stretching out before him. These are tunes about the journey, best exemplified by the snaking routes and pathways they pull the listener through: half-time breakdowns, sudden vocal stabs, hard-left turns and sudden shifts of tempo. Where previous Ronan EPs found their strength in meticulous mixing and track-craft, these embrace technique and arrangement as means to an end, resulting in lyrical, ever-evolving tunes that show an artist embracing the time given to create worlds unto themselves.
Opening with a lush ascending arp, “Call of the Wild” sends it into full-time rave mode, a ragged break workout that feels like the perfect opening (or closing) a moment of wide-eyed reverie perfectly embodied in that first sub rush over the cliff, before the A2, “Ripples,” flips the script, turning the record towards the inner zone; a contemplative, thumping dub cut that’s equally at home as a 10pm staple or a peak-time curveball, calling to mind the richest dance-floor dub of early Moody Boys or a more organic contemporary to the work of Russian downtempo explorers like OL.
On the B-side, a similar pairing of banger and breather starts up with “Sea Cave,” another twisted break workout shot through with synth risers and one-shots shared by the best releases on Warriors Dance, before pulling the listener down a rabbit hole, layering dense pads and liquid leads that wash the dance out and hang it out to dry on the refrain. The record closes in full-meditation mode with “Life Goes on,” a last cut for the night, a slow-dance for everyone who made it to the last track, laced up by Will DiMaggio’s ever-expressive keyboard work.
Shot through with moments of repose and longing, memory and hope, Vision Quest runs like an open question: how can one find a way to talk about a record that makes as much of the journey through it as Vision Quest does? Where do we find ourselves now? Where are we heading? Like the record itself, we can’t play it backwards, but we can play it again, even if there’s only one first listen.
Ronan - Vision Quest EP
Release Date: 7 July 2021
Format: Vinyl & Digital
A1. Call Of The Wild
B1. Sea Cave
B2. Life Goes On ft. Will DiMaggio
All Songs Produced by Robin Lohrey
2017-2018 in Ridgewood, NYC
Keyboards on ‘Life Goes On’ by Will DiMaggio