2020 is full of surprises I didn’t see coming and right along with the tumult comes a pleasant surprise in the form of a new album from Rhyton. Ugly qualifiers like supergroup get thrown around from time to time and it could certainly be applicable here from their collective experience alone, but Rhyton are more than some sort of side-hustle flex. Members have made their money on albums from D. Charles Speer, Coach Fingers, No-Neck Blues Band, Matta Llama, Messages, Black Dirt Oak, and in the backing band for legends like Michael Chapman and Steve Gunn. Yet together they’ve long been their own hub of experimental prowess that pushes the ‘guitar band’ beyond the expectations of the genre. Rhyton throws thier hands into a lot of genre pots —Psych (naturally), bouts with the Middle East and Greek music, plenty of jazz tangents, and the rustic nature of American roots music all make their way into the mix here, and the band never lets the seams show on their sonic quilt.
Jimmy SeiTang and Rob Smith are a rhythm force of unparalleled quality. They move the foundation of Rython from slippery to solid in a matter of minutes, acting as the symbiotic organism that holds the band together. Atop their tangled turmoil Dave Shuford employs guitar lines that scald, simmer, and mutate into non-Western directions with a gnarled ease. Shuford snags some Algerian folk instrumentation this time around, via some Mandole, and it pushes the feel away from the jam aesthetics and into the deserts of Soundways and alleyways of Sublime Frequencies. The trio plays with mystery, as they have in the past, letting their instrumentals tinge with sweat and tension, but there’s a nice sense of space at play on Krater’s Call as well, exemplified by the reclined aesthetics of the title track. It’s been a good few years since the trio has graced the speakers, and this one came without warning, but digging in is absolutely been a worthwhile venture. The album continues to unfold with mystique and mesmerizing depth on each listen. New fan or old, this is recommended as a 2020 gem.
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