An interesting instrumental pairing, to say the least. DYSRHYTHMIA, an extremely technical Avant-garde Instrumental Metal/Rock band from New York City and one with a name I have to check twelve times to make sure I have spelled it correctly, have teamed up with ROTHKO, an English Avant-garde/Atmospheric instrumental Rock band. All of this Avant-garde weird stuff is making me as giddy as a school girl.
DYSRHYTHMIA’s contribution to this split is a re-working of “Earthquake”, which was originally on their self-released “Contradictions” album. It’s been years since I’ve heard the original, so I can’t comment on the differences between the two (other than the one on this split is 14 minutes, and the original is 9). It kicks the album off with a bang, showcasing DYSRHYTHMIA at their best: A visceral output by incredibly knowledgeable and amazing musicians that dazzles you with the composition and skill at which it’s played, but also hits you square between the eyes, with sniper-like precision. The music twists and turns in every possible direction, with a sense of escalating chaos, a feeling that everything is going to fall apart at any given moment, that is eminent throughout the song, which makes you wait for the big climactic finish. The instrumental interplay is amazing, with the drummer being able to juggle odd-time signatures while still keeping a groove, and with the bass and guitars engaging fretboard frenetics from hell, each one doing their own thing while still being vital to what the other is doing. The guitars propel this thing into another world by constantly shifting from being ethereal to more grounded, while the bass is keeping you on earth by overwhelming you and going right for your throat. A sense of increasing tension throughout is also present throughout the song, especially from 1:50 to 2:30, which has the riff which hooked me onto this band the first time around. The hectic, chaotic, and insane display ends with the band going into a drone, using small amounts of sound effects and sound in order to ease the listener to the end of the song. It’s going from one end of the musical spectrum, going from being incredibly dense and complex, that results in the onset of tension, to the other end, being sparse, relaxing and unwinding.
ROTHKO are the other side of the same coin. The contrast between these two bands is striking. ROTHKO is a band that consists of no guitars: just two basses, keyboards and a drummer. Their approach is far different from DYSRHYTHMIA as well. Instead of attacking your senses, this album is much slower, less chaotic and much more hypnotic. The result: This engulfs you, seeps into your skull and takes you into another world. The music is a lot more “accessible” than “Earthquake”, mainly because it’s a lot more subtle, more ambient, atmospheric, and there's a lot less (a LOT less) going on. The tension isn’t built on the chaos of the instruments this time around, it’s more to do with how the song keeps getting louder and the layers of sound keep increasing, so by the end, it just sounds almost earth shattering, and it sounds like it’s just swallowed you whole. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with a few sparse notes. “Torch” has a bit more going on for the instrumental and melodic side, starting off with tribal drumming and some sound effects, and half-way through, the sound effects and melody take a turn for the weird, and this grabs your attention, making you want to see how the whole thing will end. This hypnotic effect of ROTHKO comes with the manipulation of layers of music and sound.
Both bands are very psychedelic, hypnotic and trippy, but those qualities are evoked in vastly different musical approaches. DYSRHYTHMIA does so by the melodic and rhythmic manipulation of their incredibly technical music, while ROTHKO does so more by the droning and ambient sounds and subtlety that keeps increasing as the song goes on, just engulfing your senses completely
This release reminded me that I need more DYSRHYTHMIA and informed me that I need to indulge myself in ROTHKO’s music.
Amazing. Just utterly amazing.
(Online November 14, 2007)