Rangda - The Heretic's Bargain [VINYL]

by Andy Brown Rating:9 Release Date:2016-02-19

While some albums take a while to get warmed up, others have you gripped within the first few seconds. The Heretics Bargain firmly falls into the latter camp, starting as it does with the wonderfully explosive ‘To Melt the Moon’.

It’s those first few precious moments that really count; riffs that sit somewhere between surf-rock and a nimble, middle-eastern sound coil and unfurl as tight, limber drums pound with a near elemental force. It’s ridiculously exciting and utterly distinctive. Who else could this be but the mighty Rangda?

Then again, you would expect pretty decent results from a line-up like this. Rangda are an instrumental supergroup of sorts featuring, as they do, the talents of Sir Richard Bishop, Ben Chasny and Chris Corsano. Bishop is perhaps best known for his work with mystical prankers Sun City Girls, Chasny for his Six Organs of Admittance psych/folk explorations and Corsano for being the finest underground drummer on the planet. This stands as the trio’s third studio album and manages to pick up where the freight-train momentum of 2012’s Formerly Extinct left us.

The aforementioned ‘To Melt the Moon’ is the battering ram that gets things started but there’s plenty more to discover within the albums slender, 40 minute duration. The twisted rock of ‘The Sin Eaters’ bursts into life, maintaining the albums blistering pace and sense of urgency; there’s a drama and flair to these grooves that keeps you utterly hooked.  ‘Spiro Agnew’ keeps things at full tilt, a smooth, impossibly cool gallop that sounds like the theme to the greatest psychedelic western never made.

It’s unlikely that many of Bishops guitar heroes can be found in your average, Classic Rock/Best Guitarists Ever articles and it’s his esoteric, exploratory tastes that infuse The Heretics Bargain with an undeniable freshness. While many rock guitarists would take the blues as their starting point, Bishop is more likely to sing the praises of Middle Eastern virtuosos such as Abdul Hussein Khan Shahnazi or Omar Khorshid (Bishop paid tribute to the latter with his album The Freak of Araby). Mix in some Dick Dale surf-guitar and an appreciation for spaghetti-westerns and you’re starting to get the picture. Combine this with Chasny’s ample skills and Corsano’s jazz-rock hybrid style of drumming and you end up with something quite unique.

Each piece has been pulled together by the trio improvising; thrashing ideas and riffs out in a room and letting the music carry them where it will. This spontaneous approach has led to a record that feels free, unrestrained and wild at heart. While the first three tracks keep things tight and rhythmical the last two pieces see the trio dive off the deep end and into some particularly experimental territory.

‘Hard Times Befall the Door-to-Door Glass Shard Salesman’ groans out of the speakers with a mangled wall of free-roaming feedback, backed by Corsano’s ever adaptable drums. It’s a terrifying mess of sound and noise that inexplicably turns into something quite gorgeous and weirdly serene in its final few minutes.

The drones bleed quietly into the albums final piece, the 19 minute long ‘Mondays are Free at the Hermetic Museum’. Taking up nearly half the albums running time, the track works as something of a showcase for the bands mix of styles. Drones give way to duelling guitars that in turn transform into cascades of transcendent noise worship. It’s indulgent, difficult and challenging; I wouldn’t have it any other way.

With The Heretics Bargain Rangda have maintained their run of breath-taking LP’s with style; finally a supergroup that lives up to its name. 

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