He describes some of his musicians as dramatists in real time, a notion that Ruo tosses off in his closely reasoned appraisal of what form he wants his music to take. Since this is a CD, however, we only have our ears to help us work out what is going on. This is a considerable problem.
What do we need to do to appreciate the sound of what Ruo calls “kinetic painting”, for example? And more importantly for someone who has to review it, how many stars is it worth? Aurally, which is the only way we have to judge Ruo’s work, this seems to be music in the style of contemporary leading edge. Western and Chinese instruments are deployed in complex interactions that have nothing much to do with anything traditional or even familiar in musical structure.
Without making it easy to get to grips with his methods, then, Ruo is committed to nudging music in directions nobody else seems to know are feasible, or has any interest in exploring. His work is certainly a struggle to decode, but there is a sense to Ruo’s music that affirms the composer as articulate and sensitive