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Rice Corpse - Mrs Rice

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Artist: Rice Corpse

Album: Mrs Rice

Label: Dual Plover

Review date: Jul. 15, 2009

Though he’s hardly a household name amongst even the steeliest of experimental and avant fans, Aussie Lucas Abela’s work as Justice Yeldham has undoubtedly left an impression on those who’ve chanced upon his uniquely visceral performances. Eschewing the familiar parameters handed down by guitars, keyboards, computers, or any other more commonly practiced instrument, Abela instead focuses on glass, contact mic-ing broken shards and amplifying the sounds it makes when he uses his mouth to create vibrations.

If that sounds a little bizarre, that’s because it most assuredly is. Those of you who don’t live near Abela’s homebase can check any of the number of YouTube clips available for a peak at the action – face scrunched against the glass, a monstrous roar pouring forth. Sonically, the stuff he uncorks using this technique really runs the gamut, with gristly white noise, monstrous feedback, and subtle creaking all seemingly possible with a twist of the lips.

While he’s been working the glass for quite some time now, Abela had generally kept his improvisations solo and off the record, avoiding both wax and the group aesthetic to instead feast upon the energy of a crowd in performance. That all changed recently when Abela found himself in China, the recipient of a grant that sends Australian musicians to the country to record and perform. Wasting no time whatsoever, he recruited drummer Yang Yang and pianist/saxophonist Li Zenghui to round out Rice Corpse, and set out on a brief tour.

Mrs Rice is the resulting document of Abela’s tenure in Beijing and his work with his newfound collaborators. Abela hardly dominates the six tracks on this disc, as he relies heavily on melodic and percussive contributions of Yang and Zenghui, a pair that hardly misses a beat. Bouncing between swinging counterpoint and reckless improvisation gut punches, tracks bounce for the surprisingly straight-ahead rhythms and swirling glass-blasts of album opener “Mountain” to the queasy blasts and twinkling keys of “Desktop Frog.” And while a piece like “Resurrection Men” blurts along like demented circus music (with Abela’s mouth music sounding like an eerie chorus at times), others like “Mrs. Rice” push the proceedings to the limits, with the band struggling to keep up with the cacophony few knew could be summoned from a piece of glass.

Ultimately, Rice Corpse’s debut earns its marks for presenting a surprisingly potent mixture of more melodic free jazz and completely unhinged noise-icianship that, conceptually, never would have sounded like it would work. The three players’ boundless energy, however, keeps things moving forward at all times, capably communicating the joy all parties must have been feeling throughout this one-of-a-kind cultural exchange.

By Michael Crumsho

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