Lamentations by RAIC

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Richmond Avant Improv Collective | Lamentations
Arachnidiscs (CD-LTD/DL)

RAIC is short for the Richmond Avant Improv Collective. This innovative collective is just about to release an interesting box set (encased in a jewelry like box) which includes their new recording Lamentations (numbered and limited to 100 copies) along with a vibrant series of fourteen full-color postcards depicting the collective in various situation b/w poems and other related texts, one per track. Hailing from Richmond Virginia, theirs is an exploration of the American South, in their own unique way on their seventh full-length album on Toronto imprint Arachnidiscs.

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Samuel Goff: Drums, Percussion, Keyboards, Vocals
Erik Schroeder: Alto Saxophone, Percussion
Zoe Olivia Kinney: Cello, Vocals
Laura Marina: Vocals, Keyboards, Electronics, Percussion
Jacob Courington: Bass
Robert Andrew Scott: Violin, Guitar, Vocals
Brandon Simmons: Flute
John Saint Pelvyn: Vocals, Guitar
Paul Metzger: Banjo, Guitar

OK, now on to the contents herein. From the very start there’s this wondrous sense of disruption, not ear-bending, but moreso a jangle that may induce a touch of hypnosis. The combination of free-form percussion and vocal interspliced with strings and rattles in a gentle dropping levitation. You have entered a dramatic world of breathy melancholic chords and enigmatic lil’ twists. Early Music – Lamentations sounds like an odd outtake from an Eno/Bowie session in Berlin back in the day. This dank and antsy mix rides the wave of peculiar changes in tone, and comes out the other side as if the listener has just visited Marrakesh.

The overall sound blends some electronics with wiggly Klezmer-like bents, into bluegrass, lowercase big band and disparate jazz energies – all somewhat hauntingly secretive. And elsewhere I could swear that I was listening to a passage snatched from some random chapter from George Orwell with nuances of the second coming of Diamanda Galas. However lost in translation, this is putting visions (and not of sugarplums) in my head. And even with all this brouhaha excised from the norm, they still intend to go one (or more) further with twee balloon toots, innebriated strings and flighty wind instruments poking through. An engaging earful that will keep an activated audience throughout.

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TRIPPY RHYTHMS: It’s most definitely one of those random experiences that would make the perfect gift (designed by Jakob Rehlinger) for someone you know who think they have heard everything. RAIC‘s flair for breaking down a kitchen-sink approach bodes well as a truly visual listening experience. The level of detail in the layers is chockful of peculiar chasms and teased tales, especially if you combine the accompanying postcard reading in further familiarizing yourself with their abstract conceptualism.

As saxes blear and the drumkit flexes on Baptism, the centerpiece here, there’s not a moment of respite until halfway through, even with the daunting amount of improvisation it takes such a large group to engage in. After a long jam they smooth out into a near tropical space of feathery tweets, dull drone and clinking chimes. There are a batch of pieces here that have that smokey Southern flavor, which kind of reminds me of the ghosts of The Doors coming back to join in on a fusion of local fiddle players at some random locale in the Appalachians.

For all the discombobulation and sass built into this once you allow it the sound will take you over with operatic dalliances, strange inferences to Italian horror soundtracks of the 60s and wild jive. Lamentations is exactly what you get when you least expect the unexpected. This is on fire.

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