Over the last five years Raúl Pastor Medall (aka Rauelsson) has been crafting a collection of compelling albums to warm acclaim. A common trait, easily found in Raúl's musical personality is his ability to translate emotions, via his curiosity about sounds and instruments, into a world a cinematic ambience. From Rauelsson's debut double EP, the more lo-fidelity and bedroom recording-oriented 'Tiempo de & Pacífico' (Hush Records; HSH077, 2008) to his more recent fully grown-up LPs in 2010 (La Siembra, la Espera y la Cosecha; HSH091) and, especially, his 2011 collaboration with Peter Broderick (Réplica; HSH096), Raul's music has always had a natural touch for the imagery and the figurative visual language. It was therefore a matter of time that Rauelsson's music would find its way into accompanying film work. That time arrived early in his career, albeit the results of that work have not been really shared until now. From River to Sea, a documentary directed by L.A.-based filmmaker and photographer Susan Fink, was Rauelsson's first score work.
Built around layered, yet sparse acoustic instrumentation, the score for From River to Sea combines a number of small vignettes and widescreen compositions lush in melody and genuinely engaging. Ornamented with gentle instrumental and vocal harmonies, piano and strings, this album compiles a delicate collection of 18 songs that sways back and forth upon the edge of preciousness, yet they are somehow loose, simple and raw. Maybe the more visceral side of some of these pieces had to do with the limited time available for composition (due to deadlines associated with the Film Festival Calendar); deadlines, however, turned out to beneficial for the writing process, fueling improvisation and a more intuitive and emotional approach into the recording sessions. The core of From River to Sea's music work parallels the personal and geographical journey featured by the main character (Susan Fink herself) on the film; a series of travels in seek of repair and healing, travels that witnessed joy, reunion, but also void and sorrow. Likewise, wander, wonder and motion are musical themes present in Rauelsson's soundtrack. This sense of motion, of vivid search is present on the music, moving naturally from easy and lightfooted, lilting melodies to heavier clouds of sound. One would say that journeys are generally inspiring and wide eye-opening experiences. However, for every important journey also involves confronting demons, traveling can also be challenging and a source of turmoil. In accordance, the music written for From River to Sea seems to want to find a place somewhere between a tender balm of comforting sounds and that of suspense and tension. Somehow, Rauelsson recognizes with this work that extremes are inspiring places to visit, not necesary to stay.
The score for From River to Sea was recorded between Spain and Portland, OR. His Oregon friends were especially helpful on the two tracks that include main vocals. The voices of Rachel Blumberg and Heather Woods Broderick are featured on 'Places' and 'Spring Bird' respectively. For the audience familiar with Rauelsson's music, the unhurried elegance of this album will work as a perfect bridge between the earlier work seen in the 'Tiempo de & Pacífico' EPs and his two recent LPs. In a way, the making of this record served as a laboratory of ideas from where many of the nostalgic imagery, gifted tact and poise seen later in Rauelsson's music started growing.