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Rangda

False Flag

(Drag City; US: 18 May 2010; UK: import)

Considering their other musical output, it should surprise no one that members of Rangda have given us something wide-open and intricate on their first record, False Flag. The album vacillates between brash squalls of guitar noise and moodier atmospheric pieces, and those two sides show us both the virtuoso noodling of guitarist Sir Richard Bishop (from Sun City Girls) and, contrastingly, the layered craftsmanship we’ve come to expect from Ben Chasny in his work as Six Organs of Admittance. So while Chasny and Bishop seem to trade turns, it makes for an uneven listen. But that unevenness actually works in the album’s favor. You’re constantly caught off guard, and Chris Corsano’s brilliant drumming—he can create chaos or restore order with the snap of a snare—gives the album just enough order to keep it from unraveling wholly. Instead, what we get is equal parts blast and rumination, huge spaces and clustered-up tangles. It all merges in the epic, 15-minute closer “Plain of Jars”, where each of these brilliant players manages to show off their chops without ever upstaging one another. It’s not surprising that these guys are all capable of making great music in the same room, but the odd sort of chemistry they’ve created in just a short time comes shining through on False Flag. So while you won’t find many answers in all these tumbling notes, it’s awful fun to sift through them and find new questions.

Rating:

Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


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4 Nov 2012
Richard Bishop, Ben Chasny and Chris Corsano chat about improvisation, working without a bassist, and how they keep things democratic.
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