SORRY I'M LATE
Kerry Leimer | Makawao, Hawaii United States | 04/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Handwriting" is an excellent record, especially considering that this is the first CD by Rachel's. Most of the music features ensemble playing, but no two tracks are completely similar. Instrumental line-ups change, sometimes radically. Some pieces, restricted to strings, have an intimate, chamber feel. Some begin with solo instruments. Another, with intrusions of drums, guitar and a lovely, fuzzy bass, develops a curious structure that oscillates between two musical worlds and does so without seeming either affected or odd for the sake of being odd. At the farthest extreme, "Full on Night" is a convincing and well-constructed soundscape /noise piece that is not simply an improvised collage: there's a coherent structural quality that comes across.
And perhaps that is the over-arching, organizing principle of this music. It's foolish to just say "somehow all this holds together." But, somehow all this holds together. In addition to the structural integrity, the writing and performing style favors understatement and restraint. These factors combine to provide a deep sense of coherence across a fairly broad range of compositional types. And don't let the word "restraint" imply that the music ever drags or dead-ends. Nor should it imply that the music is strictly minimalist, because it finds some rather nice flashes of expression, unerringly in the right place and always at the right time.
As for intimations of Penguin Cafe, well maybe. But probably not. Rachel's is clearly not in pursuit of the melodic, something at which Simon Jeffes excelled. There's a particularly well-developed sense of how things start and how things stop. And the music here is more inwardly directed, more concerned with the interaction of elements requiring somewhat longer development periods than PCO typically pursued. So, a better point of reference might be entry-level Gavin Bryars, because more often than not Rachel's comes down on the side of art music or good old "new music" than the more typically tuneful exhortations of ensembles that come bearing strings."
One of the forgettable
mianfei | 11/23/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The post-rock movement of the 1990s was a remarkable achievement because it managed to revitalise a music that had for the msot part gone either to ong emotionless pop songs or overblown punk and metal whose emotion was definitely there but entirely of a shallow kind. Talk Talk and Slint solved this problem by going back to the intensely emotional sound of Van der Graaf and making it much slower and sparser. the result were recordings of astounding emotional impact and depth whose capacity to surprise a listener has not been lost at all with time.
Rachel's however, are a case of taking something too far. not satisfied with embellishing a rock sound, but largely dissing rock instrumentation entirely and relying on strings and Rachel Grimes' piano. When I bought this record I had hoped for something with really deep emotional impact but much softer than any other post-rock group. As it turns out, few of the songs have any traces of the emotional impact necessary to qualify as genuuine post-rock: indeed, this is as much minimalist classical music as anything, even if it is produced on a rock label. And even as classical music goes there is nothing special at all about "Handwriting" because of its generally very poor emotional impact: the peices begin soft and even when they increase in volume it is not done in such a manner as to make one feel deeply.
If even there was an overdoing of a good thing, this is it. Stick with Talk Talk or Godspeed You Black Emperor."