A flurry of anxious violin strokes opens The Ridge on its eight-minute title track, rushing headfirst into a climax of splashing cymbals and echoing vocals, conjuring visions of acid-soaked western landscapes and wide open country. It's strangely, wildly accessible pop minimalism weirdness: deep tension runs through the album's main artery, constantly pushing and pulling between hypnotic repetition and spilling, tripping and exploding all over itself. With The Ridge, Sarah Neufeld — joined here by Arcade Fire bandmate Jeremy Gara on drums — establishes herself, again, as one of Canada's most exciting and singular composers.
The album's greatest strength lies in its cinematic quality. Every song feels like a scene in the bigger dream The Ridge represents as a whole, with tracks like "Chase The Bright and Burning," with its sparse, flat drums and Neufeld's airy howl evoking suspicious calm, or "From Our Animal" pulling a dramatic breakdown from its bare rush of stark violin. Blood comes to a boil on "A Long Awaited Scar" and bubbles over into a run-for-your-life chase and escape. Finally, "Where The Light Comes In" draws the curtains gracefully, with Neufeld's sweeping strings taking The Ridge's glorious wilderness to its reckoning with soulful melancholy. (Paper Bag)