RISHLOO – Remembering to Inspire
Few years ago I found a discussion on a forum or some website listing bands that sound like Tool. I don’t remember if I tried them all or Rishloo was the first and only choice, but I think I fell for their music quite fast. It had a Toolish touch, indeed, but something of their own as well. It had a complex simplicity, should this description make any sense. It had a pleasant calming voice and groovy drums. Then they had a video out on youtube for ‘Freaks&Animals’ and it was quite an intriguing one, so I kept watching it until I more or less learned the song by heart. Then I started checking out some live tunes and when I saw the vocal capabilities during live concerts, I pretty much started listening to their releases on repeat, for days and even months. I loved the sounds and some of the lyrics ideas and I always had these psychedelic – yet relaxing – lights in the back of my head while the music was playing – lights that seem to be heavily used during their live shows. Then I had a chance to travel to the US and so I just had to include a trip to Seattle and asked the band if they want to sit down with me for an interview. And they did and it was almost surreal that they offered me a tour of their home/studio, as a number of them were sharing the place and decided to turn one room in the upper floor into a rehearsal room. It was way more than expected and I am forever grateful for this.
Unfortunately, a little while after this, the band announced that their singer, Drew Mailloux would leave the band. Then it all went quiet and sad, until the 3 remaining members (David: guitar, Sean: bass, Jesse: drums) announced they would still go on as an instrumental trio and with a new name – The Ghost Apparatus. They started an online fund raising campaign to support the release of the new material and so occasional updates were posted on social media on how the work is going. Until the happy day when the big announcement came and the 4 members reunited, dropping he instrumental project and deciding to continue as Rishloo and release the oddly titled ‘Living as Ghosts with Buildings as Teeth’. The news made my day – and probably the day of many other fans.
Once the online campaign ended and all details were set in place, the band offered the album for download to the pledgers. Being one of them, I decided to try to put in words how I perceive their new sound, maybe it helps me actually understand what I think about it. Initially it felt the same as the previous album, Feathergun – weird, odd, not fitting, not good, why did they do that and where are this or that element I previously loved. And after 2-3 more listens I realised that most songs were stuck in my head and I couldn’t wait to know the lyrics so I could sing along the choruses. And that the old was still there, very well disguised in newer elements and experiments that still sounded very Rishloo’ian. So far it’s been exactly the same. I didn’t get the first song that they released on youtube. I didn’t get the album at the first listen. I heard it 2-3 more times and then I left for holidays and forgot about it. But I realised I am singing it in my head while on buses or whenever I had idle times. So then I picked up the headphones and started playing it again. It was such a lovely immersion into the music. Strange, yet familiar sounds.
With LaGWBaT, Rishloo took their complex simplicity to a more refined level. It feels like the whole sound has been stripped off anything that would disturb you, yet I don’t think it’s easy to digest. The songs seem to have non regular structures and rarely classic choruses. Nevertheless, they have Rishloo elements. Melodic and pleasant guitar intros or obsessive guitar parts, groovy bass/drumming that dwells between metal and jazzier sounds (and if you like cymbals, there’s still a lot of them to enjoy) and the voice…The voice is as powerful and playful as ever and as usual, able to create the theatrical atmosphere that most likely appealed to me in the first place. Able to cover some decent ranges, the voice also has a harshness that adds brutality to its beauty and fits perfectly with the screamed parts in which the bands sings about social or personal issues and tries to express their gravity.
The album starts pretty roughly and kinda slows down towards the end. Hence, up until this point I am more into the first half part of it, with its roller-coaster of tempos and breaks and screams, but I know that on previous albums I kept changing the favourite song quite frequently, so I won’t chose a favourite song until next year or so. Until then I hope to figure out what emotions are supposed to go with each of the tunes. The guys are using a lot of metaphors in their lyrics and it happened often to think that the theme of a song is something love or hope related, but after few listens you actually start perceiving the grotesque of the reality pictured by the words It feels like the songs on the album are not far from this, yet, they need to be digested.
And once you enter the theatre play, the hell breaks loose and the songs unleash in various directions in order to keep you fascinated and confused at the same time. And when the song ends, you surely wish for more. I personally wish that the second halves of ‘Dead Rope Machine’ and ‘Dark Charade’ would last something like 30 minutes each. Like on the previous albums, the songs work nicely as a whole but they have a personality of their own, with beautiful passages between them. I think I read somewhere that most of the material comes from the ideas brought up when the band switched to the instrumental trio and this might have actually helped reshaping the whole sound-scape altogether. And then, the addition of the voice and any other changes simply put it back to sound like Rishloo. It is just a supposition though.
Another thing I admire about the band is that they did it all on their own. Well, except raising the money for this release, but other than that they do not have a label, they record in their own studio (not quite sure about mixing – an area in which there might be a complaint or two over some volumes choices), they do promos and visuals and posters and management themselves. Besides having lives on the side. They probably don’t have the biggest community of fans in the world of metal, but for an independent effort it seems like they are not doing too bad and probably most of the fans are keeping the fingers crossed that there’s a chance for a tour so one can admire them live. I’d surely travel to at least one of the shows if not to all of them if money allow.
Living as Ghosts with Building as Teeth is available for streaming, together with the previous albums, on various platforms. Give them a try, check out the live videos to understand what I meant about the visuals and the powerful voice and maybe see you at a Rishloo concert.
Rishloo has already taught us that why we’re here is to inspire and I am grateful that they remembered it and returned with such an inspiring album. Hopefully it will open plenty of new roads for the guys and they will soon perform on a stage near you. Better yet, near me. Happy 2015 everyone!