Rhye – “Woman”
Like any great new band, Rhye got their start amidst a wave of mystery, rumors, and anticipation. hey released two tracks, “Open” and “The Fall,” on their Soundcloud page without any information as to who produced the tracks. The music gained near instantaneous attention with a NSFW video for “Open,” and the allure of the unknown just added to the appeal. The band later stated that their intention behind the secrecy was to allow each listener a unique experience, without focusing on who made the music. When details about the band finally surfaced, it was no real surprise that the tracks had been masterfully and carefully produced. The founding members of Rhye are veteran musicians Mike Milosh and Robin Hannibal. The two first met in 2010 as labelmates on Canada’s Plug Research when they collaborated on a track, spending a week recording music for Hannibal’s Quadron project. Their styles clicked, and they decided they should try to make some full length tracks. Three tracks were produced before they both went their separate ways. Finally, after a serendipitous reconnection in the states, Rhye was born in Los Angeles, California.
In the short time the duo has been playing together, they have achieved a lot. They released this first album, Woman on L.A. based label, Innovative Leisure. The album was highly acclaimed. Pitchfork awarded the album best new music, and invited the band to play their daytime showcase at SXSW in Austin, TX. At the beginning of this year, they played a Boiler Room show (which you can see here) alongside Classixx, Nosaj Thing, and more. The power of their music comes from its relatability. In an interview, Milosh shared, “All the songs we have created for this record come from very real and tangible experiences that I have had–”Open” is the result of a beautiful night with my now-wife.” That authenticity certainly comes through in the music. One can’t help but be reminded of the love filled moments of their own lives as they listen to this album.
Musically speaking, Woman has everything I listen for, and the production is spot on. The instrumentation is light and doesn’t put sounds where they don’t need to be. The music takes advantage of the negative space which allows the listener’s mental foray’s to a nostalgic place in the mind we often choose to ignore, and emanating from that space are Milosh’s silky vocals that at times feel like nothing but concentrated emotion. The overall style is hard to classify: it’s three parts soul, two parts disco, one part indie folk. All those different styles come together in a way that is impossible to ignore.
As an album, Woman certainly tells a love story. “Open” is the music of absolute bliss; the world completely melts away leaving only the light sounds to ground the listener. “The Fall” is the lamenting departure from this blissful place, the longing for it lasting forever. From there, the album is an fare of equal parts danceable and listenable compositions that never stops connecting to the listener from a very real place.
The most impressive feature of the music is the level of complexity that is achieved, while still remaining airy and light. “3 Days” features a wide assortment of instruments: piano, harp, violins, flutes, and synthesizers. Each instrument trades off melodies, styles, and roles within the music. The strings are playing staccato rhythms one minute, then drawn out harmonic lines the next. The track is a disco symphony of sorts, and a testament to the talent of the two musicians.
This album is sure to bring out the romantic in everyone. It is heart wrenching, melancholic, nostalgic, and hopeful all that the same time. Give this album a listen, and remind yourself of everything that is possible with love.
Review by Nate Turley.