Sunday, April 15, 2012

Rain Drinkers - "Yesodic Helices" (2012) [Brave Mysteries]

When it comes to scenery, Middle America has the absolute worst reputation. Lacking the mountains which bolster it on either side, no deserts, canyons, vast expanses of forest, nor oceanic coast, we residents of the breadbasket regularly deal with complaints of "flat, featureless land" and "endless, boring cornfields." Twentysomethings yearn for the day they get to leave this supposed hellhole, setting their idealistic sights for Colorado, California, or New's almost as if they spent their entire lives blind to the beauty which surrounds them. All these folks ever really needed to do was open their eyes to their surroundings and see the beauty found in these endless rows of corn, these rolling prairies and understand that this area is just as beautiful as the mountains they hold so dear. We don't really have many musicians who glorify the space between the mountains, so when groups like Madison, Wisconsin's Rain Drinkers surface, excitement abounds.

I truly live for music like Rain Drinkers. The duo of Xavier Kraal (otherwise known as Kinit Her and Burial Hex's Troy Schafer) and the mysterious Joe Taylor, of whom apparently only Schafer knows personally, have quietly been releasing CD-R after CD-R of their own brand of engulfing sound collages, culminating in the now sold out Urthen Web cassette and Springtide CD-R, released on Brave Mysteries and Reverb Worship respectively. Early on, I kind of felt as if Rain Drinkers was one of your "dime a dozen" psychedelic folk bands, but their sound grew stronger and more unique with each new release, culminating in the mature, thoughtful Yesodic Helices. With these two tracks, titled "Helix I" and "Helix II," Schafer and Taylor take what is considered folk music (a mix of English folk, Appalachian folk, and composer Ennio Morricone's educated guess at what Western American music happened to sound like) and stripped it down to its very core, not unlike Jesy Fortino's "microfolk" approach with her Tiny Vipers and Mirroring projects. However, unlike Ms. Fortino's adherence to song structure, Rain Drinkers take folk deconstruction one step further, resulting in picturesque, almost tangible ambiance. Taylor and Schafer, both multi-instrumentalists, weave tapestries of guitar, violin, and countless other instruments, leaving brilliant images of tree-bordered fields of wheat and shaded creeks. I swear, you can even hear the water running. It sounds like home.

It takes a lot of talent to break folk music down into an atmosphere while still keeping it as engulfing and enthralling as an actual song, and Rain Drinkers definitely possess that talent. Yesodic Helices is an absolutely entrancing listen, and Brave Mysteries wholeheartedly agrees, celebrating it as their fourth vinyl release. There are only 250 copies of Yesodic Helices available, but the first 100 orders come especially with the equally as lovely Cast of the Rye Wolf  handmade CD-R, released on Schafer's Shifting Sands Congregation label.


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