Remastered and expanded for this release, City Lake is clearly a stepping-stone on the way to that singular album. Moore's ensemble is larger, but less tightly marshalled: in the course of his drifting, meditative compositions, woodwinds, strings and molten flows of lapsteel guitar sit apart, where TWGTA blends its materials into a shimmering whole. The second Bing & Ruth album felt strangely depopulated, and was all the more engrossing for it. City Lake sounds like an ensemble playing together. (There are even voices, though they don't go so far as to sing words.)
Structurally, too, Moore didn't quite nail it. The best of City Lake's longer tracks are pleasantly sprawling, like "Put Your Weight Into It," which unspools over 12 minutes, or "Broad Channel / A Little Line In A Round Face," which features a welcome repetition of the opening track. The worst stray towards the grand pomp of post-rock: "City Lake / Tu Sei Uwe" hesitates for ages, then spends its last four minutes at a dramatic climax. We know that Moore can walk less familiar paths, and spend less time dawdling along the way.
Nonetheless, the album has its blissful moments. "And Then It Rained" has a wonderful, trudging melancholy to it; the following track, "Rails," lifts us gently out of the funk. Three bonus tracks included with the re-release are almost as good, though they stretch the album to a daunting 75 minutes. City Lake's main effect is to make you appreciate the charms of its successor all the more. Its main effect, but not its only one.
Sat / 12 Dec 2015
01. Broad Channel
02. Put Your Weight Into It
03. And Then It Rained
05. City Lake / Tu Sei Uwe
06. Broad Channel / A Little Line In A Round Face
07. Here's What You're Missin
08. You're Gonna Need That When He's Gone (Bonus Track)
09. In This Ruined House (Bonus Track)
10. Broad Channel (Solo Piano) (Bonus Track)