"Melodies contort and writhe around each other until finally relaxing into an overlapping flow like bodies in heated, breathless love-making"
Rhye – Woman
by Matt Doyle
A group that may not be a household name yet, but will be sure to be on everyone’s lips in the future. Rhye, the mysterious new indie ensemble, had their debut album ‘Woman’ leaked four months ahead of schedule to the surprise and incredulity of most.
Rhye, after choosing to remain anonymous on their inception for a 3 month term, have now been revealed as multi-instrumentalist and singer, Mike Milosh and producer, Robin Hannibal; the minds behind an act that’s moving a mile a minute. The group were only making themselves known late in 2012 before announcing a March album release and Spring tour at the start of December. Now that album is upon us and already putting sparkles in indie enthusiasts’ eyes.
The anonymity that shrouded this act when first single ‘The Fall’ and viral video ‘Open’ became available was once so infinitely fitting. The faceless sultry voice oozing forth from the opening songs of the album proved smoulderingly powerful yet pronouncedly feminine. These vocally driven performances are even more intriguing when put in mind of the fact that it is a man, Milosh, who is making these utterances.
The singing continues in this vein for Rhye over the course of the album. Verses swell and contract, fade in and fade out, while always retaining that same understated intensity and intention. The music is stripped back, deconstructed, to the barest of beginnings and then remodelled. Percussion throughout the LP consists of finger snapping, or similarly simple beats while melodies are made from muted synths or simple traditional horns and strings sects. Rhye’s vision is unique and beautifully niche. The music can put one in mind of classy Neapolitan lounge music, while being filtered through to the 21st centuries with the overlaying of sumptuous layered vocals and synth progressions.
Tracks such as Shed Some Blood and Hunger introduce a more upbeat jazzy mood to the release, showing some primal, forceful undertones (“Don’t call me love unless you mean it. Now shed some tears and fly away”), while slower songs such as Last Dance display a more plaintive and vulnerable side (“Tell me lies and lullabies but don’t give me that face”) to this act.
One Of Those Summer Days is wonderfully representative of the experimentation Rhye are capable of. Vocal repeats clash and collide with a mish-mash of orchestral sounds, creating a varied hectic sound. Melodies contort and writhe around each other until finally relaxing into an overlapping flow like bodies in heated, breathless love-making.
That imagery may sound lewd, but that’s exactly the kind of thinking that Milosh wants to extinguish. This record is primarily about love and sexual attraction and the joys and despairs that can come from both. Milosh himself states ‘Love is beautiful, and sex is beautiful, and I don’t think those things should be shown in a grotesque way. I’m just attempting to express love and sensuality in a very honest way.’ The lyrics from Woman all share this theme, exploring human sexuality so simplistically, while contrasting with the intricacies of the music.
The album closes with ‘Woman’, a haunting finale of vocal improvisation and dominating operatic melodies all stemming from the original simple synth sequence. Milosh simply says the word woman over and over, aptly demonstrating the stupefying power that love can have and has had on him.
Overall, Rhye have provided us with a courageous, unique sound in ‘Woman’. This LP manages to be sensual while tender, domineering while muted, casual while fervid, a triumph for Rhye and ensuring a big year is in store for them.
A moderately hyped band, but still very new on the block and an extremely early release
Brave, game-changing release that is certain to be a hit of 2013