rhBand - "Third Order Parasitism"
(Drunken Fish 1997, DFR-33)
rhBand - "First Tone" (Drunken Fish 1998, DFR-39)
From Aural Innovations #6 (April 1999)
rhBand is a primarily electronic ensemble that play highly intense, industrial instrumental electronica. There is a variety of instrumentation that the band uses fully and creatively to produce some of the most interesting electronic music I've heard in a while. Neither of these CD's has any band information, nor could I find much on the internet, though on the Drunken Fish web page it's noted that some of the instruments are homemade. There aren't any song titles either, but they do list an arsenal of instruments and equipment that across the two CD's includes Wurlitzer electric piano, upright grand piano sound board, electric organ, sine wave generator, Jimmy horn, bowls, modular feedback generators, e-bow, wah pedals, and... you get the picture.
Third Order Parasitism opens with a pulsating machine shop drone of electronics that slowly builds in volume and intensity. There's is a good bit of raking over piano strings, which I've always thought sounds very cool and works well in horror film soundtracks and indeed it's adds tremendously to the eerie atmosphere here. Various synth sounds dart around and become more prominent during the music's two minute descent to the finale. This is powerful music that would be ideal as the soundtrack to a futuristic suspense thriller. (Or perhaps if they updated Psycho instead of that bullshit frame for frame remake... but don't get me started on that.)
The second track, also about ten minutes, begins with multiple competing synth patterns. One consists of freaky bubbling space synths, another is a repeating, decidedly non-melodic line, and a Sun Ra type organ bit that intermittently pops in and out. rhBand combines and contrasts electronic sounds and instruments to produce some refreshingly creative electronica. This is NOT music to relax and groove along to. It's highly atmospheric, though unsettling at times, and demands the listener's attention in the way that a symphony does. In fact, much of this could really be described as an electronic space symphony. The rest of the disc returns to, and expands on, the same territory and I found myself quite lost in it during it's nearly 60 minute length.
"First Tone", the band's most recent release, is a far more subtle affair than their debut. The first track (of four) is a ten minute psychedelic guitar/electronic piece that strays very little from it's linear path. The next track is a 30 minute industrial space drone that develops very slowly, and does so only by the various blips, whooshes, and string bangs that crop up throughout. Great atmospherics and I can think of a load of films it would really influence as soundtrack music. Things start to get a bit intense during the last eight or so minutes as the volume picks up and a great droning wall of fuzz starts to invade. Throughout this track I was reminded of a huge factory that turns on this machine... then another... and so on, adding to the noise and grind of its daily operation. The third track has an industrial symphony feel and is the one track that felt could have been on "Third Order Parasitism". Again we have a pulsating drone, but there's also some of the string banging and a cosmic flute playing along. The tune gets a bit ear splitting as a high pitched sound invades and we're treated to all manner of synth sounds. Very interesting music from a band I'd like to know a bit more about. Definitely start with "Third Order Parasitism".
For more information you can visit rhband at the Drunken Fish web site.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz