Rats on Rafts - Tape Hiss

by Rob Taylor Rating:9 Release Date:2015-10-16

Tape Hiss is a tireless and brutish record by a bunch of working class lads from Rotterdam calling themselves Rats on Rafts, a band name full of conjecture. Perhaps elfish stowaways in today’s unforgiving flood of rock music?

If there’s a hint of self-deprecation in their band name, it translates to an uncompromising mandate in their music-making. The unsanctified noise these guys make is almost enough for me to ditch the morning coffee and hit the bourbon instead. I decided against it, and just turned the volume up, deciding to immerse myself completely, against better judgement.

Two headaches, one naughty ciggie and a piece a burnt toast later, I was playing air guitar in the hallway to the estimable beast of a song ‘Machine 1-6-8’, a modern day expressway to your skull. Brilliant chromatic riffing with a driving and inexhaustible rhythm played by young blokes with the right mixture of stamina and world weariness. Not a hint of burgeoning mainstream in evidence here. These guys are playing from the gut, and the heart.

Rats on Rafts are lyrical mayhem, clamor, noise, and walloping drums all churned against a muddy aesthetic, but with a friendly enough consonance to sway along to, even if the security of steel capped boots is advisable. It’s the sound of punk rock as you first want to remember it. Unadorned, aggressive, galvanising music which you not only hear, but experience as minor explosions of ever deafening and slightly delayed sound inside your head.

‘Rat Poison Face’ is probably the ugliest, most incendiary piece of slug-rock I’ve heard since my last migraine. Beautiful noise that could be the soundtrack to your next night sweat, and best heard within the relative safety of a small venue with elastic buffers and friendly security staff.

One point that needs to be made though; with ‘Seaside Tape Hiss’ Rats on Rafts show they are capable of poise, as the guitars ring out like school bells summoning the weary, and literally offering a bit of mid-album solace, momentary as it transpires. 

One positive side-effect of declining music sales is that bands like Rats on Rafts can get back to kicking against the pricks. Hallelujah to that, and may their live shows attract the audience they deserve. 

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