Review: Rangda / The Dead C – Split LP

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(Vinyl LP, Ba Da Bing Records, 2013)

This fresh split from Ba Da Bing places some of the leading forces in experimental rock music against themselves, but also makes them work in unison towards a greater goal: on side A there is Rangda, a psychedelic supergroup comprised of Chris Corsano on drums and Sir Richard Bishop and Ben Chasny, both wielding guitars. Side B is occupied by New Zealand noise rock legends The Dead C comprised of Michael Morley, Bruce Russell and Robbie Yeats, who are also some of the greatest deconstructionist of guitar-based canon, those who took rock music and left it rusting in the sun, consumed by rust and decay.

Rangda’s side consists of two rather lengthy tracks: even without ever hearing the band as a whole, yet knowing the individual style of each musician, one can already feel what to expect: it’s ornamental, oriental and incredibly rich and nuanced. Corsano walks a fine line between off-the-hook improv madness and careful, balanced, almost meditative slow passages while Bishop and Chasny go through a masterful guitar duel of a somewhat improvisational nature without ever going astray or wandering into a cheap showmanship. The trio works in harmony, channeling the psychedelic energy without having to resort for an overblown, fuzzy destruction. There is a sense of happinnes and joy in Rangda’s music, which is further accented by the sudden burst of laughter at the end of opening “Gracilaria”. The following “Sancticallist” takes a slightly more meditative tone without losing any energy. It sounds like a more kinetic version of a Six Organs of Admittance piece, climbing the holy mountain and enjoying the view of the world.

The things on Dead C’s side, however, get darker and more grimy with the lo-fi, harsh guitar tones and a slow, synthesized drum pattern on “EUSA Kills”. If Rangda’s side was the euphoric, all-loving high from a psychedelic drug, then Dead C provide a soundtrack for the nasty, hazy comedown – the remains of hallucinations still linger in the brain, with ghostly, barely audible vocals spewing forth deadpan, dark lyrics and the guitar, once an instrument of beauty and endless satisfaction, now becomes a tool of torture, with the droning, drilling tone and a sandpapery torture. The Dead C’s tracks don’t even try to resemble any actual melodies or structures, they just stumble through the post-narcotic chaos, knocking furniture over and causing mayhem while constantly praying: “let me come back to reality, let me get a grip!” But the comedown won’t let off that easily. It gets hardest on the closing piece, “Heaven’s Wheel”. No easy solutions, no clean getaways here. Just the funeral, atonal and droning guitars set to a maniacal, basic drum rhythm that sounds like a heart beating way too fast. Anyone who has ever experienced the uncontrollably fast heartrate after ingesting a drug will identify with this piece. Few bands can produce a sonic equivalent of fear and paranoia as well as those New Zealanders.

This split vinyl LP is truly a SPLIT in the truest sense of the word: it is a panorama of vastly different moods. From the ever-unwinding peaceful jams on Rangda side to the blackened drone rock on Dead C’s side, the album presents two approaches to the psychedelic experience, both just as competent and compelling. Highly recommended.

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