Tuesday, March 24, 2009
D. Rider - Mother of Curses: The Reglar Wiglar Record Review
Urbandictionary.com defines 'D-Rider' as "someone who rides dick or is all up on your meat" or alternately, "a dusty kid in your crew". The liner notes to Mother of Curses, the debut record album by Chicago's newest elite music ensemble D. Rider, credits one "Deathrider" as the drummer, vocalist and strings-ist on it's accompanying musical collection. Quite the conundrum. And while we'll have to wait and see if we ever get to the bottom of this, in the meantime we can contemplate the music.
First a touch of background: Tha D, as we shall not call them, are the latest musical manifestation of Todd Allbbertt Rittmann. TAR is known to many as the tall "low" guitar player in U.S. Maple, and he may also be seen fucking around as a member of Chicago supergroup Singer and Northwest Suburban supergroup Cheer Accident. Rittmann (a.k.a. th'forementioned "Deathrider"), once again the tallest member of the band, sings lead and plays all the standard, manly "rock" instruments himself. He is invaluably augmented by Andrea Faught, who also works for Cheer-Accident, on keyboards, coronet and vox, as well as saxophonist/singer Noah Tabakin, of gonzo marching band Mucca Pazza.
Fans of U.S. Maple's singular knotty stumble will find much to like on Mother of Curses. The record represents a clear departure as it eschews USM's small-group naturalism in favor of some tastefully restrained but playful studiobound pot-stirring. As the record opens, the tone and rhythm are set by the sound of a magic marker writing. A minor key electric guitar, stately, not unBonham-ish drums, fuzz bass and a coed duet vocal fall in line one by one - like a tired Skrull regiment marching out to conquer, again. The tension builds but never quite subsides or climaxes. As the record progresses song to song, the sense of resigned dread intensifies. But this is not some sadsack downer bullshit. No it isn't. The assertive nature of the musical and vocal arrangements - there's funky bass, badass horn lines, whawazzat harmonizing, calming spurts of lovelyness, and jaw-dropping axe shredding scattered all over this thing - and the lyrics - vaguely gallows-humorous, mostly impressionistic meditations on war, sickness and isolation - are cut with a celebratory anxiousness.
There's been some talk wherever it is that people 'talk' these days, speculating that the current world reality may well inspire and inform some great musical statements like we saw in previous eras of turmoil. Of course, I'm not sure what's going to happen (major caveat: I haven't heard the new Morrissey album, the one with the cover where he's holding the baby yet), but I am prepared to go out on a limb and throw Mother of Curses on the pile with Blood Visions and Life...the Best Game In Town as an avatar of 21st century visionary rock and roll music.
Check for Mother of Curses at your local retailer, your preferred online source, or check with Chicago Independent Distribution.
Consumer note: the 12" vinyl l.p. contains a coupon for a free digital download of the album in mp3 or flac format. The download includes one song that is not on the cd or vinyl edition of the album.