Tuesday, June 1, 2010


False Flag (Drag City, 05.2010 )

For: AFCGT, Orthrelm, Jackie-O MF

Byline: A bifurcated album of pure guitar brilliance split between all out noise attacks and eastern influenced psych-folk improvised beauty.

The above for: category above could have read something like this. All of your favorite guitarists on acid. For example: The opening riff on "Waldorf Hysteria" sounds like Dick Dale, on acid, playing a demented surf riffs. The hyper-kinetic, swirling solos smearing expressionistic tonal freakouts into disciplined structuralist breakdowns on "Bull Lore" sound like Jimi Hendrix...on acid. The eastern-influenced 15 minute long "Plain of Jars" is Peter Walker...on acid. Given that most of these artists were on acid during much or most of their careers playing music, why don't their technical bravado enter into the sheer disregard for life, limb, or eardrum (Rangda is one of the many reasons I will go deaf before I am 40) explored on False Flag? Perhaps it has to do something with cosmic timing, the star alignment or some vaguely mystical something-or-anoher that brought together three of the most daring muscians under the mas(k)thead of the frighteningly astute supergroup Rangda. Rangda is Sir Richard Bishop, one time band leader for noise legends Sun City Girls and now czar of ethnic guitar studies for the indie-rock crowd (and owner of one of the best and most apt album names ever, While My Guitar Violently Bleeds) Chris Corsano who has drummed for Bjork, Sunburned Hand of Man, and Jim O'Rourke to name a few, as well as Ben Chasny, psych-master behind Six Organs of Admittance and Comets on Fire. Phew, that is some pedigree. Getting these three in the same room is impressive, but what these three do on False Flag is nothing short of miraculous.

Coming in with six tracks, False Flag has a distinct A-side/B-side album break punctuated by the flying-off the handle, scathing "Fist Family" on track three. Completely abandoning any semblence of melody, the duo's guitars drone and squawk, circle like cicadas the size of B-52's while Corsano goes absolutely bonkers on the drums. Before that comes "Bull Lore", which sounds like a metal version of an Ennio Morricone spaghetti western soundtrack, is given some serious muscle by Corsano's blitzberg triplets methodically placed under Bishop's and Chasny's interweaving guitar lines. Fortunately, a well-earned reprieve comes in the form of the last-half of the album. "Sacophagi", "Serrated Edges", "Plain of Jars" borrow heavily from Chasny and Bishop's recent solo psych-folk guitar explorations. "Serrated Edges", while picking the tension back up, have moments of inhuman technicality when Bishop's finger-tapped modal scales meet Chasny's heavily distorted tremelo picking. Ending on a contemplative and oddly triumphant note, the 15 + raga "Plain of Jars" plays us out, a fitting coda to an album split between its nature to destroy and to nurture. It may be early to throw around "best of" nods, but this is looking pretty good.

Ryan H.

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