Category Archives: Group Rhoda

Tropical Frieze

Group Rhoda return to these pages with the most excellent Minimal Synth Bossa Nova jams.

Trespass does what Group Rhoda does so well and weaves multiple disparate moods together into a beguiling whole.  Her vocals, as always, at once deadpan and almost operatic.  Like locking into a piercing stare while the world explodes into colour in your peripheral vision.  Layered underneath, a haunting minimal synth track; as much South American as Near Eastern.  Swirling, sparse and hypnotic.  And finally a spare drum machine that manages to be super minimal and absolutely banging at the same time.

Group Rhoda – Trespass

Trespass is the first track off Group Rhoda’s album Wilderless.  You can get it digitally or on vinyl from her Bandcamp, right here.

Finally, we have a bonus video in the form of Brenna Murphy’s work with Visible Cloaks.  The sounds are a mix of Visible Cloaks Reassemblage  and parts of their forthcoming Lex (which we’ll write more about soon).  The visuals are a form of RGB Brutalism with scant regard for ambient occlusion and global illumination.  They’re reminiscent of early digital animation and late 70s video synthesiser work.  But whereas that early work was often defined by rigid, mathematical movement, Murphy’s work foregrounds the human hand as we see abstract pattens painted across the screen in real time.

It’s also trippy as fuck so you should watch it.

Area 51 dance party

Featuring : Group Rhoda

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Skittering beats across a desert plane.  Mara dancing by fire, the cloudless sky illuminated by the laser trails of countless celestial beings.  The smoke from the flames helping give the laser light form and shape.

As the darkness begins to spread at the far corner of the sky, a lone figure moves in the desert valley below.  It’s not quite clear how she came to possess the fuel, but this distant figure is almost certainly building a fire, or a pyre, or some other low wooden structure that seems ripe for burning.

As the desert turns cold, the sun picks out the black edges of the surrounding mountains.

Now it is night and the fire rages.  We are closer.  Closer to the warmth of the fire.  We can see that our fire builder is Mara.  She dances behind the flames and as she does so, we hear music.

Skittering beats cross the desert plane.  From above we see shapes against the stars.

Right on the beat, the cloudless sky becomes illuminated by the laser trails of countless celestial beings. The smoke from the flames helping give the laser light form and shape.  Their metallic wings and angular bodies blot out the stars.

And Mara dances.  And Mara sings.  And the desert becomes a dance floor for the black birds in the sky.

Group Rhoda – Skia

Group Rhoda are currently on tour in Easter Europe.  You can read about where right here.

Dreams of the Clipped House

Featuring : Group Rhoda

Despite attending fewer shows than ever, this year has been a good one for live (dance) music. Alongside seeing Chris and Cosey at Heaven, we recently witnessed Teeth of the Sea annihilate a claustrophobic basement club. Both ear burstingly visceral experiences for sure. It’s back to April though for the first time one of your fearless writers turned to another and uttered the incantation “gig of the year?”

And with that piece of hyperbole let us reintroduce you to Group Rhoda.

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Group Rhoda’s second album is out now on Not Not Fun. It’s called 12th House and is very good indeed. There is a track on that album called Disappearing Ground. It’s a soft and hazy bosa nova dreamscape. Where Antena is all white washed walls and dancing shade, Disappearing Ground is sheltering from a rain lashed seafront in the sticky warmth of a basement club. I love both equally.

However, today we posit a third way: Identity Theft’s remix of Disappearing ground that folds space between Mara’s clipped dream vocal and early 80s synth pop; the fold charting a journey directly through Electroclash and House. While the first three minutes work well as a hypothesis on the future of Group Rhoda as a reluctant Diva-House band, the second half of the track unleashes the synths. And glorious they are in their urgent, tragic ascension and fall.

Group Rhoda – Disappearing Ground – Identity Theft Remix

You can’t buy this as far as I know but you can the Group Rhoda album right here.

The Return

Featuring : Group Rhoda

Beginning in a grain filled haze, dawn peaking through the foggy half light.  Group Rhoda pierce through this and return to these pages, this time atop a new album out on Night School Records.

20JFG has been suffering a DDOS involving work deadlines and shitty internet over the past two weeks.  We hope we’re over the worst of it.  We really do.  What that’s meant is that this amazing record by Group Rhoda has been fermenting on our hard drives, only growing with potency as the weeks ticked by.  Mara’s voice remains as beguiling as ever, only now it floats over a more tropical selection of synths.  Drifting ever closer to the sacred sands of Antena’s Bossa-Nova-Wave.

At the Dark resembles Pop in as much as Polish Cinema posters resemble their source material.  The forms are there and vaguely recognisable but you’re constantly left with the feeling that you’d rather see the films theses posters presented than the often mundane inspirations.  Group Rhoda’s world of Pop winds a world around the voice.  A world of of bassy oscillations and conspiratorial melodies.  A private version of Pop that owes much to her Minimal Synth progenitors.

Group Rhoda – At the Dark

At the Dark is taken from Group Rhoda’s album Out of Time — Out of Touch.  You’ll be able to grab it yourself when Night School Records releases it on August 20th in the UK and early September in the rest of the world.

 

20 Dark Pop Greats

Featuring : Group Rhoda + Terror Bird

There have always been fabulous moments when the worlds of popular music glide into the villages constructed at their parameter. Whilst there, they mingle with the inhabitants, sometimes fall in love, sometimes bear children. Sometimes those children stay the village, sometimes they return to the citadels governed by the deity of cross-media potential. It would be completely out of character if we didn’t celebrate these creatures, born out of step with the rigid codes of their parents.

Terror Bird’s odyssey — beginning in the 4-tracked rooms of Vancouver and snaking its way via the LA Station Radar love this ‘ere blog flirted with last year and finally hopping through the East End of London’s ode to Synth Wave and arriving this year in a gorgeous 7″ from Night School — seems as improbable as it does inevitable. Like all great pop.

When I Woke Up comes all over PJ Harvey with a hammered keyboard straight from the minimal claws of Petit Mal. The (relatively) epic build here, so strong, it could only have come into being by splicing the DNA of Carl Craig with Spector era Tina Turner. The tension feasts on a few X-factor hopefuls until, two thirds through, Toni Bassell’s tortured soul is summonsed to possess Nikki Never’s yelping call out into the darkness. Bold, subtly violent and a touch over three minutes. you can’t ask for better, darker, more moving pop than that.

Terror Bird – When I Woke Up

When I Wore Up’s taken from a 7″ on Night School that came out at the beginning of March and which we unforgivably slept on because we’re rubbish sometimes.  It’s amazing and limited to 300 copies which is a pretty dangerous situation.

San Francisco’s Group Rhoda is pop in the same way that Kate Bush is pop, i.e. perfectly.  Gorgeously enunciated vocals over deceptively simple but giddying-ly evocative arrangements – check.

Concrete Jungle takes what sounds like the end of a run out grove and turns it into a rolling heartbeat intertwined with a foggy hiss; then quickly adds a simple keyboard melody over subdued synth chords.  As much as Fever Ray places her voice behind demonic layers of sound, Group Rhoda foregrounds hers; beautifully clear, naked and well enunciated.  This is folk abducted from Newport, dragged through cold wave and left in a mist filled scrap yard for once commodified and slightly damaged electronics.

Group Rhoda – Concrete Jungle

Group Rhoda don’t have anything to sell yet but you should check out her website to hear more glorious outré pop.

At this point the post usually wraps up but in this instance, not posting another track from Group Rhoda would just be extreme rudeness given the riches presented to us in a neatly labelled zip.

The epic and delicately tense Model Home gets our deserved attention here.  Managing to distil both the Exotica and the spy soundtrack influences that went towards the dearly missed Broadcast; here Group Rhoda takes a rhythmic preset straight from a Lynchian lounge and add enough warm fuzzy bass to transport us back to the 60s before taking the blue-hued spotlight to deliver the straight-to-camera vocal that cuts through you while whispering in your ear.  The breakdown near midpoint is so simple it becomes, for the short time it appears, the most beautiful thing in the world.

Group Rhoda – Model Home

With thanks to Amitai for the tip and Mara for sharing.

The Shadows are Persistent

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Crackling lightning subsides after briefly signalling your arrival atop this place. The skyscraper’s concrete roof is reassuringly cool and indifferent beneath your bare feet.  You spot a bland, sturdy door rising from the rooftop that undoubtedly leads to the building below.  All abstract thought has retreated, to be replaced by a gnawing hunger for food and shelter.

The door gives way during the third attempt at smashing the lock.

Baron – Hearth Shell

The access stairwell is harshly illuminated.  You shadow is cast like a monochrome kaleidoscope against every available surface.  This would be a problem if there was anyone around to care.

You gaze at the building’s inhabitants: shapes formed of glass and cotton and metal and plastic.  Your eyes continue their search for anything edible; any sign of life; any hope of sleep.  The journey, hardly begun, has left you with nothing.

Death waits in the shadows for you to fall.

A hum, a single tone and a splash of colourful light spill out from a distant corner.  The vending machine’s flimsy resistance lasts only a few noisy blows and the loot is yours.

Death moves from the shadows, stirred by the brittle sounds of your victory.

Shadows dance around; light from the disembowelled machine reflecting off the shards of glass that now litter the floor.  You move on.  Pressing further into the building.  Emboldened by your resourcefulness, cunning and guile.

The abandoned corpse of the machine is slowly swallowed by darkness.  Death stalks you.

You press down levels, faster and faster.  The unconscious feeling of cold dread pressing in on the nape of your neck.  Walls and lights and text and machines — they fly through your vision before being consumed by the darkness that descends with you.

You must leave this place.

A lift lies motionless, its doors open and inviting.  You dive in and hammer the button marked ‘0’.  The doors begin to close.  Light fades in the hallway.  You hear a scraping sound and cast an accusatory glance at the doors as they drag themselves together.  In fairness to the doors, the sound had unquestionably come from further off down the hall.

Brett Naucke – Endless Royalty

The lift doors finally open on a corridor.  At the end is an emergency exit.  The door is open and soft daylight spills in.  Halfway down the corridor on the left, also ajar, is an imposing laboratory door.  The door is emblazoned with every yellow, red and green warning sticker you can imagine.

The lift lights start to dim.

Group Rhoda – Disappearing Ground (Identity Theft Remix)

You haven’t seen Tron and you regularly ignore warnings about experimental equipment.  If you decide to rush into the room, go here.

You hear the faint (and incongruous) sound of branches swaying beneath the talons of unknown creatures…and this seems infinitely more appealing to you.  Exit the building and go here.

2013 References

Image taken from The Stanley Parable

You can acquire Brett Naucke’s excellent ‘The Visitor’ here.

A special mention should go to Identity Theft whose 2011 album, Night Workers, we only discovered this year (thanks to Group Rhoda).  It’s an opaque gem and you should check it out here