If the heart of rock and roll is the beat, which I believe it is, the liver, or small intestine, or some other invaluable part of rock and roll is the breakdown. That moment, as the song is ending, when it breaks down into simulated, well crafted chaos.
Let’s back up a few feet. Rangda is a “supergroup.” Richard Bishop was a member of the indescribable Arizona noise trio Sun City Girls, and is one of the two still alive. Ben Chasny is a/k/a Six Organs of Admittance, and plays guitar, and has produced some increasingly riveting East-inspired records. Chris Corsano is a percussionist and a genius. Aiight! We’ve got that out of the way.
Somewhat surprisingly, and arguably disappointingly, Rangda, at first brush, sounds like none of the trio’s former work so much as the intentionally impenetrable skronk-a-doodle-doo of SCG at their most self-indulgent. It’s dominated by Bishop’s chattering, skittering guitar parts, and it’s a wall of noise, oppressive but not fully formed. With the exceptions of the self-consciously lackadaisical “Sarcophagi” and the self-consciously epic, fifteen-minute, from-here-to-there “Plain of Jars” (about which, more later), it’s an edifice of noodling, power chords, and unrelenting freestyle percussion. Which sounds rather miserable. And, at first, it is. But give it a minute.
Calling it “noise music” would be an insult. Rangda is, more than anything, “classic rock,” a perhaps ultimate optimization of the breakdown. If you listen to the worst of SCG, you’ll stop caring. If you listen to Rangda, with an attentive ear, you’ll hear an ass-thrashing rock and roll coda that never starts and never ends.
Rangda plays breakdowns divorced from buildup. Catharsis divorced from drama. Which, when you think about it, is pretty fucking timely.
About “Sarcophagi”: Not a bad approximation of the lazy, defeated end of a miserable workday, i.e., “the blues.”
About “Plain of Jars”: If you liked “The End,” you’ll be blissfully confused.