Promising “big band free jazz, black metal, ‘70s car chase themes, noise rock, avant garde, jazz and lounge,” this sixth album from Richmond, Virginia’s RAIC is suitably titled. In all, 11 musicians join the core quintet.
The album opens with a near-23-minute jam that sounds like a Tom Waits soundtrack circa 1992. Given that three of the band’s five full-time members – Samuel Goff, Abdul Hakim Bilal and Laura Marina – all provide drums or percussion at various times, it won’t surprise you to hear that this first track carves a pretty deep groove.
Next is “Brugmansia.” More atmospheric than its predecessor, the track opens like a post-rock opera and grows increasingly dramatic, which is to say blaring. The transition is purposely rough. Part of RAIC’s appeal is its fondness for pushing listeners outside their comfort zone.
The awkwardness of that shift between the first two tracks is carried forward with the beautifully jagged and intricate “Occlusion.” Its barely controlled freneticism is among the album’s high-water marks.
The 65-minute disc also features two straight-up jazz numbers. “Leaves Continue to Fall” is a stunner. Maybe the album’s finest track. In contrast to what comes before it, we get a gentle, spacious sax solo decorated with soft percussion. Gorgeous. “Pinguina” is more uptempo, but just as emotive.
Here’s the complete band lineup (full-time members are listed first):
- Abdul Hakim Bilal – drums, guitar
- Erik Schroeder – alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, percussion
- Zoe Olivia Kinney – cello, vocals
- Laura Marina – drums, percussion, vocals
- Sam Byrd – drums, percussion
- Tim Harding – bass
- Jimmy Ghaphery – sopranino saxophone, flute
- Tristan Brennis – tenor saxophone
- John Priestley – guitar
- Jacob Courington – acoustic bass
- Rei Alvarez – percussion
- Tony Nowotarski – guitar
- John Bliss – guitar
- Richard Schellenberg – bass
- Lucas Brode – guitar