Music

The Invisible : Rispah

The long-awaited sophomore effort from London-based the Invisible is a grown up and cohesive piece but over-shadowed by talk of grief.


The Invisible

Rispah

Label: Ninja Tune
US Release Date: 2012-06-12
UK Release Date: 2012-06-12
Amazon
iTunes

Most other reviews of Rispah mention the death of Dave Okumu's mother as the album's defining feature. Of course, Rispah was written and recorded in the immediate aftermath of this event, so it would be difficult to ignore the impact: Indeed, Okumu has described the album as a "love letter to grief." However, there is a risk that all of that (and I really don't mean to belittle such a sad event) is getting in the way of objective opinions of the record. Rispah has so much more to offer.

The Invisible comprises of Dave Okumu (vocals and guitar), Tom Herbert (bass and synthesizer) and Leo Taylor (drums). They have been working together as The Invisible since 2006 and in 2009 released a self-titled, Mercury Music Prize nominated debut album. Okumu and Co's debut The Invisible bounced along at a furious rate of knots with dance and jazzy rhythms mixing seamlessly with rock sensibilities all pulled together with smooth production values and Okumu's breathy vocal technique. It was pretty good but kind of fluffy in places which left this particular critic wondering a little what all of the fuss was about.

Rispah is different from that eponymous debut in the respect that the spring has been removed from the band's step and, with it, some of the fluff that was attached. The album retains that special smooth production style with former UNKLE Richard File sitting behind the mixing desk. The jazz influence is still apparent, but with this outing, there is more fearless experimentation and more dance beats (probably File's influence). The record is more pleasingly minimalist with shadows of Philip Glass and Eno-like treatments, which makes the record so listenable. On every listen, you are exposed to something that you may have missed the last time. It a nuanced and emotional collection of songs.

This album is also a haunted house of a collection. Not necessarily due to any subject matter of the songs (although this has an impact) but because each tune has a eerie quality that puts the listener in a strange place. So far, on every listen, Rispah manages to send chills down the spine. This quality was evident on the debut, but here it is front and centre, from the instrumental introduction "A Particle of Love", with its swathes of swirling synths mixed with Kenyan spiritual singing (this meme resurfaces throughout the whole piece) to the seven-and-a-half minute finale, "Protection".

Rispah never loses its way. It is a coherent group of songs that fit together in such a way that one could wonder if any of the songs were taken out of context the impact might be lost. In that respect, it should be viewed almost as an art installation. The songs flow in and out of each other often to the point where they could easily be one song. This is not because all of the songs sound identical (They don't) but because they so strongly sit together like variations on a theme. Apparently, that theme is grief, but I find the whole thing quite uplifting. Particular highlights of the movement are "Surrender" and "Protection", although it is hard to single any one piece out for praise.

Rispah is therefore an evolution of The Invisible's body of work with less spring and more experiment. This cohesive collection is an eerie and nuanced collection that will reward the listener with multiple listens.

7
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.

Books

New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.

Music

Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.

Music

Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.

Music

New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.

Books

'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.

Music

Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.

Music

Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.

Music

M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.

Music

Parsonsfield Add Indie Pop to Their Folk on 'Happy Hour on the Floor'

Happy Hour on the Floor is a considerable departure from Parsonsfield's acclaimed rustic folk sound signaling their indie-pop orientation. Parsonsfield remind their audience to bestow gratitude and practice happiness: a truly welcomed exaltation.

Music

JARV IS... - "House Music All Night Long" (Singles Going Steady)

"House Music All Night Long" is a song our inner, self-isolated freaks can jive to. JARV IS... cleverly captures how dazed and confused some of us may feel over the current pandemic, trapped in our homes.

Music

All Kinds of Time: Adam Schlesinger's Pursuit of Pure, Peerless Pop

Adam Schlesinger was a poet laureate of pure pop music. There was never a melody too bright, a lyrical conceit too playfully dumb, or a vibe full of radiation that he would shy away from. His sudden passing from COVID-19 means one of the brightest stars in the power-pop universe has suddenly dimmed.

Music

Folkie Eliza Gilkyson Turns Up the Heat on '2020'

Eliza Gilkyson aims to inspire the troops of resistance on her superb new album, 2020. The ten songs serve as a rallying cry for the long haul.

Music

Human Impact Hit Home with a Seismic First Album From a Veteran Lineup

On their self-titled debut, Human Impact provide a soundtrack for this dislocated moment where both humanity and nature are crying out for relief.

Music

Monophonics Are an Ardent Blast of True Rock 'n' Soul on 'It's Only Us'

The third time's the charm as Bay Area soul sextet Monophonics release their shiniest record yet in It's Only Us.

Film

'Slay the Dragon' Is a Road Map of the GOP's Methods for Dividing and Conquering American Democracy

If a time traveler from the past wanted to learn how to subvert democracy for a few million bucks, gerrymandering documentary Slay the Dragon would be a superb guide.

Music

Bobby Previte / Jamie Saft / Nels Cline: Music from the Early 21st Century

A power-trio of electric guitar, keyboards, and drums takes on the challenge of free improvisation—but using primarily elements of rock and electronica as strongly as the usual creative music or jazz. The result is focused.

Books

Does Inclusivity Mean That Everyone Does the Same Thing?

What is the meaning of diversity in today's world? Russell Jacoby raises and addresses some pertinent questions in his latest work, On Diversity.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.