Rascal Reporters — Redux, Vol. 1
(Bandcamp Hebbardesque no#, 2019, DL)
by Jon Davis, Published 2019-09-03
In the annals of eccentric, complicated modern music, Rascal Reporters deserve a special place if they don’t have it already. With a history stretching back to the 70s and a catalog of strange music that defies categorization, let alone comprehension, it’s probably safe to say they’re outliers on pretty much any scale you could invent. Redux, Vol. 1 features a number of tracks that were in the archives of original Rascals Steve Kretzmer and Steve Gore but had never been completed, mainly because the music was just too complex for them to overdub the finishing parts with the technology they had at the time. Feeling the music was too good to remain unreleased, surviving Rascal Kretzmer got together with James Strain to put the finishing touches on the pieces, and this is the result. It starts out with “Improv Cost Me My Job,” which is less than a minute of keyboards and drums full of odd rhythms and disjointed melodies. Then we dive into “Hubert Greenery Peck,” just shy of fourteen minutes of complex and precise music that goes through so many changes you lose track after a couple of minutes. The fact that Strain was able to add drum parts to this recording after the keyboards were already in place is downright amazing. But beyond the technical feat involved in its creation, it’s a fun piece that should appeal to fans of tricky RIO-ish music like Thinking Plague, Forever Einstein, and Zappa’s later instrumental work. “One of Our Dogs Is Missing” is similar in style within a more compact timeframe, and might be my favorite in this set. Some of its melodies have a fanfare-like quality that reminds me of something Hatfield & the North might have done. “Egos Explode” is a piece left behind after Steve Gore’s death that Strain tackled in the same manner. The set finishes off with “Her Kind,” a vocal track sung by Kretzmer. It’s somewhat less complex than some of the instrumental excursions, but is far from an ordinary pop song, and for some reason brings to mind Tony Banks' solo work. Fans of complex music that maintains a sense of fun should check out this new kind of Rascal Reporters album, and will probably be primed for Volume 2 when it comes out.
Related artist(s): Rascal Reporters
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