Dutch band Rats on Rafts are back with their third full length LP, set to be released on Fire Records on January 29, 2021. This is a full 8 days after the orange clown moves out of The White House and seems the perfect time for an album chock full of wit, spunk and innovation to be released. Calling it a concept album might put some people off, but here this Dutch band, the one that gave us the awesome Tape Hiss show just how keen their analysis of the world is. Tokyo Music Experience perfectly nails the big brother is watching us vibe. The sense we are under surveillance and losing our grounding in reality starts to creep over you. This song grabs hold and feels like being on an acid trip with no way off the merry-go-round. Here the bouncy rhythm and sonics, buttress the pre-programmed nightmarish future the band are alluding to. An absolutely stunning moment.
Then there is Another Year which references the Swell Maps in all their fucked up, isolationist glory. In the space of just over a minute, the band show they’ve really expanded their sonic palette.
Fragments builds on this vibe and immediately made me feel I had been dropped off in some unknown neighborhood smack in the middle of Pudong Shanghai with its gleaming skyscrapers, crass materialism and detachment from reality. Where is my Dream proves a harrowing yet very rewarding sonic experience. The band really know how to ratchet up the tension and sense of unease. A pop song at its core, here the music veers off into a distorted dilaudid haze that references the scream in Pink Floyd’s Careful with That Axe Eugene, and then implodes into a hail storm of warping distortion. This was such a well rendered piece I had to listen to it a few times. On each successive listen, I felt as if a secret code was being revealed to me. Part Two: Crossing the Dessert is another epic stunner with its sonic barrage. Here the band slay everything in its path. The deftness of the playing, the paranoid singing and harsh production stretched over a giddy up beat, gave this reviewer a psychological workout that I hadn’t expected. Completely scary and intense this record should come with a warning label that it only be administered during the day. Proceed at your own risk because as the legendary band Hawkwind once said via Michael Moorcock:
Do not waste time blocking your ears
Do not waste time seeking a sound proofed shelter
Try to get as far away from the sonic source as possible
Do not panic, do not panic, do not panic!
(purchase the record using this link)
Jonathan Levitt, December 13, 2020 , 4.5/5