BY JENNIFER KELLY
Rhyton infuses open-ended psychedelic grooves with subtle Greek and Turkish influences. The band, led by Dave Shuford of the No-Neck Blues Band (whose Americana-slanting outfit is D. Charles Speer and the Helix), is a trio, but there are never just three instruments in play. Shuford layers the high staccato rattle of bouzouki over American six-string. Bass player Jimmy Seitang juxtaposes slow-boogie-ing bass with the whistling treble of keyboard. The drummer, Rob Smith, sticks to his kit, holding wild conjectures and improvisations together with the steady thump of percussion.
Kykeon, Rhyton’s third album as a band, shows increasing assurance in balancing groove with exoticism. “Sirens in Byblos” starts in a duel of noise as two instruments, one shrill and twitchy, the other viscous and frictive, create conflicting streams of feedback. A minute in, Smith lays down structure in a shambling beat, and the piece coalesces into jam. “Topkapi,” named for the Ottoman palace in Istanbul, is the disc’s most foreign sounding, built on a wavery non-Western guitar lick, and lattice-work picking. The two instruments, one assumes both played by Shuford, intersect and comment on one another, above the warmth of low subdued bass. Despite its intricacy, the piece feels relaxed, not in any particular hurry to finish.
“Gneiss” (whose name, aptly enough, means a layered kind of rock) is more of a boogie, with loose, blues-inflected guitar skittering over a fundamental groove, and “Pannychis” with its organ drone, sounds like a Stax instrumental with a bouzouki player making a guest appearance. “California Box Vapors” evokes Zeppelin heard from a few rooms away in its hazy, smouldery blues rock; there’s even a bit of singing on this track, though slipped so low and mutter-y into the mix that you can’t make it out. The closer, “The Striped Sun” is the one that will most remind you of Shuford’s old band, beginning in a loose and extended improvisation, where random rattles of stringed instruments bump up against sporadic, almost accidental bursts of bass and percussion.
Taken as a whole, Kykeon seems more cohesive, less add-x-to-y, than the self-titled debut. It’s not just putting psychedelic rock and blues up next to Mediterranean traditions, but finding the junctures that meld these sounds into one thing.
DOWNLOAD: “California Box Vapors” “Topkapi”