Review: Rain Drinkers – Yesodic Helices

(Vinyl LP, Brave Mysteries, 2012)

Troy Schafer (known in this project under the pseudonym Xavier Kraal) and Joe Taylor have created a small universe just for themselves with their collaborative venture Rain Drinkers. Every one of RD albums features the musicians in natural surroundings, dressed in clothes that indicate no specific time or location. On “Yesodic Helices”, both the clothes and the music gives away the certain fascination with old American folk music, as well as their penchant for Eastern drones, as if entering the whole “New Weird America” scene with a cinematic sense of music, and a stronger focus on compositional themes – while many NWA musicians focused on improvisation and DIY ethic, Rain Drinkers appear very careful and meticulous with creating the sounds.

On “Yesodic Helices”, the duo’s debut LP, many may find similarities to the soundtrack for “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” by Warren Ellis and Nick Cave. What immediately strikes the listener, is the richnes of melodies, textures and sounds packed on two side-length compositions, and, most importantly, the number of instruments played by the two. By their sheer multi-instrumental ability and cinematic atmosphere they set themselves far apart from the other drone artists, who usually rely on one-two instruments in the process (save for Sean McCann, who makes his sound just as rich and exquisite). What is Rain Drinkers’ forte however, is their integrity and ability to keep the track droning and psychedelic while remaining disciplined and not straying away from the main themes.

Images of old, forgotten America with its often harsh nature, beautiful surroundings and difficult life on the frontier are recurring themes of Rain Drinkers’ music, on their debut LP those themes are more pronounced than ever. Sombre, distant acousitc guitar strumming connects with a vaguely southern sounding funeral trumpet, while the reverbed and often heavy drones add a ghostly, melancholic feel to the whole experience. While side A’s “Helix I” is the homage to the pale-skinned pioneers doing their best to merely survive and make a living on the endless prairies of the great American plains, “Helix II” is more spiritual, owing much to the traditions and beliefs of the Native American inhabitants. It’s quieter, less melodic and cohesive, more focused on the ritual flutes and otherwordly atmosphere instead. If side A is the “White” side, then side B is the “Indian” side.


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