Recording information: Black Dirt Studio (01/2015).
On their third full-length as Rangda, drummer Chris Corsano and guitarists Ben Chasny and Sir Richard Bishop sharpen their focus considerably, tightening their already impeccable musicianship and resulting in some of their most successful material. The album opens with shotgun guitar riffs and snapping snare drums before launching into a demented surf rock rhythm in 5/4 time, which jumps along at a bouncy tempo, highlighting Bishop's Middle Eastern-influenced guitar melodies, and only getting chaotic during a few brief, controlled moments. The following two songs pack the group's propulsive drumming, twisted time signatures, and sun-baked desert melodies into less than three minutes apiece. Considering how noisy and unhinged these musicians (particularly Corsano) have gotten in the past, it's remarkable how tight and straightforward these cuts are; the trio members meld their powers into one scorching, scarily precise unit. However, on the album's final two extended tracks, they get more outlandish, turning their backs on the thoroughly composed style of the album's opening numbers. "Hard Times Befall the Door-to-Door Glass Shard Salesman" is rambling and abrasive, with loose layers of guitar feedback burying Corsano's crumbling, tom-heavy free jazz splatter-drumming. Eventually the pandemonium dies away, leaving a slow, meditative guitar pulse for the piece's final minutes, leading into the 19-minute epic "Mondays Are Free at the Hermetic Museum." After two and a half minutes of droning, the pace picks up with a zipping guitar riff, which sets the group off on a wayward fantasy journey, building up hypnotic rhythms only to crash into each other and construct something new. There are a few extended, calmer passages, but then they end back at the riff, more spirited than ever. The album ends up being more sprawling than it initially seems, but no less triumphant. ~ Paul Simpson