Music

D. Rider: Mother of Curses

Abstract, sloppy, and practically tuneless, D. Rider tops off its debut album with grating monotone vocals. The end result is, unsurprisingly, quite unappealing.


D. Rider

Mother of Curses

Label: Tizona
US Release Date: 2009-02-17
UK Release Date: Available as import
Website
Amazon
Amazon
iTunes

D. Rider's Mother of Curses starts off with the sound of a marker writing on cardboard, quickly followed by jittery bursts of guitar and individual tambourine hits. A voice speaks the title of the first song, "Arranged Marriage to No Toms", the drums come in with a simple beat, the background distortion noise amps up and a fuzzed-out bass sneaks in, too, creating an intriguing combination of sounds, at least until Todd Rittmann (listed in the liner notes as "Deathrider") starts "singing" about a minute into the song. His vocals sit astride a blurry line somewhere between chanting and out-of-tune singing, and it instantly makes the messy background music grating instead of intriguing. A saxophone shows up a little past the halfway point of the song, making random sound effects as much as it plays notes. And then the song ends. But instead of ending when the music stops, distorted sounds drone on for another full minute.

D. Rider remains this way for the whole album. The songs grade as rather abstract and often without melodies or even recurring riffs or hooks. Even so, the trio creates some interesting ideas instrumentally. Rittmann handles the bulk of the sound creation, it seems, as he receives credit as the "drummer, voice, strings", which includes guitars and bass. Because Andrea Fraught plays "oscillatrix, cornet, voice" while Noah Tabakin is the "reedist, voice". The oscillatrix, an old synthesizer, makes really annoying oscillating electronic sounds. (Click the link for examples.) Anyway, usually when the band creates something interesting sonically, it becomes obliterated when Rittmann's vocals start. With the music already balancing on a knife edge between compelling and bothersome, the vocals continually push D. Rider's songs to the wrong side of that edge.

Lyrically, it's not much better. While not precisely random, it often challenges to decipher what Rittmann goes on about. An exception, "Body to Body (to Body)", tells a mostly coherent story about a horse race. "Touchy" contains an assortment of lyrics like, "I can be a cowboy when you touch it / You can be a princess when you touch it / I am a policeman when you touch it / You're a ballerina when you touch it." This actually turns out to be one of the more tolerable songs on the album. The music almost finds a groove between the bass and drums before backing off into more distortion and drum fills. The lyrics, chanted in a pair of low voices, sound almost like the song could've worked if done by, say, Mike Patton. The song then actually does find a groove in its last 45 seconds, maybe providing a glimpse at what could've been.

"Welcome Out" may be about a black ops agent being released into the world after years of work undercover. More intriguingly, it's the one time on the album where Rittman's vocals almost work. A loose, slow acoustic-guitar riff (sounding like an instrument with at least one broken string) accompanies the vocals effectively. And Faught and Tabakin play cornet and baritone saxophone, respectively, coming in a little more than a minute into the song and play an array of separate notes. But at 1:52, they coalesce into a harmonized horn duet -- easily the most melodic moment on the album.

Beyond "Welcome Out", though, not much on Mother of Curses can be grabbed on to. D. Rider is so willfully abstract musically and aggravating vocally that it's a tough album to appreciate and even tougher to actively like. The band seems to be doing its damndest to be off-putting, and if they are, they succeed. Otherwise, though, just what D. Rider attempts to accomplish remains a mystery. Whatever the band's intent, though, Mother of Curses simply doesn't work.

3

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.

Music

Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.

Music

Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.

Music

'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.

Music

Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Film

Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Music

The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.

Music

Gloom Balloon Deliver an Uplifting Video for "All My Feelings For You" (premiere)

Gloom Balloon's Patrick Tape Fleming considers what making a music video during a pandemic might involve because, well, he made one. Could Fellini come up with this plot twist?

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Brian Cullman Gets Bluesy with "Someday Miss You" (premiere)

Brian Cullman's "Someday Miss You" taps into American roots music, carries it across the Atlantic and back for a sound that is both of the past and present.

Music

IDLES Have Some Words for Fans and Critics on 'Ultra Mono'

On their new album, Ultra Mono, IDLES tackle both the troubling world around them and the dissenters that want to bring them down.

Music

Napalm Death Return With Their Most Vital Album in Decades

Grindcore institution Napalm Death finally reconcile their experimental side with their ultra-harsh roots on Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism.

Film

NYFF: 'Notturno' Looks Passively at the Chaos in the Middle East

Gianfranco Rosi's expansive documentary, Notturno, is far too remote for its burningly immediate subject matter.

Music

The Avett Brothers Go Back-to-Basics with 'The Third Gleam'

For their latest EP, The Third Gleam, the Avett Brothers leave everything behind but their songs and a couple of acoustic guitars, a bass, and a banjo.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.

Books

David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors

David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.


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.