Rivulets – Debridement


Minneapolis’ Rivulets (aka Nathan Amundson) is back following the success of his self-titled release a little over a year ago. For those unfamiliar with the project, Amundon plays extremely somber and cathartic music on his acoustic guitar and is often joined by friends from other prestigious indie rock bands. Amundson is extremely talented at creating these painful ballads, and his sound is so personal it sometimes makes the listener feel as if listening to these songs is an invasion of his privacy. They’re deeply painful hurting and haunting songs that carry with them despair, regret, and sorrow. This is showcased even more on Debridement as Amundson has managed to out do himself by taking things to an even darker level than I thought he was capable of doing so.
Being the curious fellow that I am, I looked up the word debridement in the dictionary. This is the second time Amundson has gotten me to do so. The first was in the review of his EP when I was curious what an actual Rivulet was. The answer, as I found out, was a small solitary creek, which fit quite well with the aesthetics of the band. Debridement, I found, is a surgical excision of dead, devitalized, or contaminated tissue and removal of foreign matter from a wound. Quite a clever title if you ask me. My interpretation of title is that Amundson has these deeply saddened and depressing emotions within his soul and that removing them through the use of music is his process of debridement. He needs to remove these feelings, to be cathartic because what’s inside is killing him on the inside.
Things get started off quite dark with the first couple songs on the record. Both “Cutter” and “Bridges” have such disturbing elements about them that it’s scary to imagine the level of pain inside their performer. However, I’m feeling a bit better about “Conversation with a Half-Empty Bottle,” a track that reminds me of the first Rivulets record in terms of its melodic tone and melancholic feel. It’s a beautiful song that comes across sounding extremely sincere. Simplistic instrumentation works quite nicely, outlining an acoustic guitar playing repeated broken chords amidst Amudson’s unique voice.
The excellent “Steamed Glass” reminds me of Ida’s I Know About You record. It’s a gorgeous tune that has an extremely saddened folk element about it – the perfect song to reminisce about past regrets and experiences. The minimalist nature of the song is haunting to say the least. The songs continue with this melancholic feel on both “The Sunsets Can Be Beautiful (Even in Chicago)” and “Shakes.” Amundson’s free-flowing and natural approach to songwriting is a refreshing element in today’s indie rock scene. The listener almost feels as if Amundon is singing directly to them, trying to comfort them.
Being a Minneapolis native, as is Amundson, I also see the long winters disappearing and spring eventually starting to come into fruition. Debridement is a similar comparison; the pain is gone now, it’s released into song format and one has a brighter and more optimistic future to look forward to, even if it sometimes feels good to focus on the pain and to try to relive some of those experiences over again. It’s something I think about a lot, and I’m sure Amundson does the same, as well as evidenced by this excellent record.