Reviews of good albums we overlooked this year...
If fame is a prerequisite for being in a supergroup, then labeling Rangda as such would be a stretch. But for fans of experimental, underground music this trio is like Traveling Wilburys multiplied by Them Crooked Vultures. Guitarists Sir Richard Bishop (Sun City Girls) and Ben Chasny (Six Organs of Admittance, Comets on Fire) have teamed with drummer Chris Corsano (collaborator of everyone from Bjork to Thurston Moore) for an instrumental album of psychedelic bliss that deftly maneuvers from unrelentingly harsh to transcendentally sublime.
That the two moods coexist naturally is a testament to the talents of the musicians, especially considering half of the album's six tracks are open-ended improvisations. Opener "Waldorf Hysteria" is a sprint of shredding - Bishop and Chasny attack their axes, eliciting shrieks and squeals while Corsano matches their intensity with an all-out assault on his kit. It creates the sensation of hearing three lead guitarists. "Fist Family" is similarly scorching, surging for the entirety of its 81/2 minutes. There are no peaks or valleys, just a continuous thrust of mayhem, but one that never approaches self-indulgence.
Those jarring blasts make the meditative calm of "Sacophagi" seem even more peaceful. Corsano's burst gives way to gentle brushes; guitars flicker instead of explode and the band exhibits a graceful precision. And even when things get noisy again that elegance remains. "Bull Lore" plays out as a steady march into some sinister unknown but the rumble never devolves into what would have been a well-earned chaotic flourish. For an album so packed with sizzle, the moments of restraint are equally essential.
Recommended tracks: "Bull Lore," "Waldorf Hysteria"