The Upshot: For staunch fans of guitar/percussion psych and improve inclined to host wine-tastings and silent auctions (not). Get it on wax, natch.
BY FRED MILLS
Sometimes the press sheet and bio says it better, so allow me to quote, regarding New Haven cosmonauts Rivener:
“Lysergic, shape-shifting explorations of no wave, noise, free-jazz, and psych, with some elements rooted loosely in the rock tradition.”
Now, lest you think the above stratagem is a lazy reviewer’s cheat, fear not. Amid multiple spins of this heavy duty (how heavy? Thick 180gm black wax, heavy…) sonic sojourn, I detect scores of nuances designed to tweak my inner Prog, Kosmiche, and Noize teenager; but just as I could not summon, as a musical neophyte of a teen, the requisite verbiage to translate into words what was echoing through my cranial columns, here in 2017, it’s almost as if this no-overdubs/minimal-edits duo is determined to thwart the quick-with-a-description crowd—and more goddam power to them.
This, a collaboration between the Twin Lakes and These Are Not Records labels, and their follow-up to last year’s Svengali Gaze, finds guitarist/keyboardsman Paul Belbusti and drummer Michael Kiefer initially dropping the listener down into the middle of what some of my unreconstructed hippie friends might mistake for a heretofore undocumented middle section of “Dark Star” circa 1969-70. But nevermind the Dick’s Picks, here’s “It Takes A Pillage” coming on the heels of “Noiren,” in which the pair’s more focused percussive leanings come into play via a roiling, mutating, POV-changing series of sonic extrapolations that would make even the most devoted Sonic Youth tape archivist turn green with envy. Much later, deep into side B of the LP, Rivener moves into more groove-oriented territory (term used loosely) thanks to some apocalyptic rumblings during the lengthy “Discoveries of Fire (Saints, preserve us)” and the downright tunefully lyrical “Tsardana,” a kind of Middle Eastern modal mantra that all you lapsed Savage Republic fans might readily embrace.
Challenging? Depends on one’s aural proclivities. Suitable for wine tastings and silent auctions? Um, probably not. Life affirming? Oh, yes. Yes.
DOWNLOAD: “Tsardana,” “It Takes a Pillage”