A whirlwind of ivory strokes plink out followed by a howl. It’s a risky start, and in less capable hands, “Riddles” could very well have become some gnarled Chris Martin meets Ben Folds gasp about teenage love loss. You know the kind of stuff; you don’t know if you should laugh or cry at the precious striplings who are just becoming aware of their delicate, flower-like emotions. The Baltimore duo known as Ed Schrader’s Music Beat, however, does not fall into cliche trappings. Rather, the song builds into a roaring storm.
At the 45-second mark, steady, purposeful drums kick in behind Schrader’s weary vocals. From then on, “Riddles” continues to gather steam and cascades into something much more TV on the Radio-like, circa Return to Cookie Mountain.
There is weight to Schrader’s ponderings, and it’s a weight that translates well into the timeless quality of the surrounding sounds. Questions of individuality, others, relationships between the two, and the nature of self-formation and reflection resound here. There is permanence to these questions in the fleeting mortal world, and on “Riddles”, the title track from Ed Schrader’s Music Beat’s upcoming album, they are explored in the tintinnabulation.
Schrader said about the song:
“To me this song is about shaking the ghost of an ever-present teenage self, only to realize you are only ‘that ghost’ and nothing more. You’ve been asleep in your head and you wake to a shattered present which makes that over-romanticized ‘ideal’ past all that more alluring. Even with its monsters, you run back into it and pull the covers over your head.
“This was where my head was at the time I got a voicemail that my Step Dad died. He was a larger than life character who I had very mixed and unresolved feelings about. Learning of his death was like waking up and suddenly the mountains were all gone. Gravity shifted, and it kicked up all the dust bunnies of a damaged past along with its rich, dark beauty.”
“Riddles” by Ed Schrader’s Music Beat rings with eternal questions, and for that we award it 83 out of 91 tolling iron bells.
HURRY – LISTEN – ED SCHRADER’S MUSIC BEAT
IMAGE BY LISSY ELLE