Rick Rizzo and Tara Key – Double Star

January 01, 1970

(Thrill
Jockey)

 

www.thrilljockey.com

 

Rick
Rizzo and Tara Key, two veterans of Louisville,
Kentucky’s early 1990s punk
scene, join together for a decidedly unpunk collection of unhurried,
translucently pretty instrumental tracks. It’s their second collaborative
effort. The movers behind Eleventh Dream Day (that’s Rizzo) and Antietam (Key), put out Dark Edson Tiger together
ten years ago, an album that the AllMusic Guide‘s Jason Ankeny called
“hauntingly atmospheric.”

 

Some of
the cuts on Double Star date nearly to Dark Edson Tiger days. Parts
of “Interruptive Organ,” for instance, were recorded shortly after that album’s
release, in sessions with Dark Edson bassist Tim Harris. Others were
birthed later, through a file-swapping, remote collaboration between Key in New York and Rizzo in Chicago, and occasional in-person sessions
with both principals and drummer Josh Clark.  

 

As an
album, Double Star is unusually serene, its cuts following minimal riffs
over light-filled landscapes, changing very little as they go. There’s a degree
of variation from track to track. “Rizzo Starts,” for instance, is built on a
sunny Appalachian blues lick (and both he and Key are from Kentucky, so why
not?), while “Insanity Stomp” has a Sonic Youth-ish bent distortion to it, one
guitar keeping time, the other arcing and fuzzing with abandon.  Yet even the most electrified songs here have
a calm center, a mode of circular repetition and drone that clears space within
the noise.  Moreover, the quiet ones, “Roundabout Ways,”
for instance, marshal the most extreme sort of clarity. Here, a three-note riff
stops just short of being a melody, through repetition gaining a kind of
mystical surety. Each note is lovingly shaped and lingered on, framed by little
explosions of drums and cymbals.

 

Two of
the best songs come near the end of the album. “Yes I Wait” is the clear
highlight, a slow tendril of melody reaching up out of restless,
forward-leaning rhythms. You feel, in listening, simultaneously calmed and
anticipatory – as if you’d just woken up on a sunny day.  It’s followed by “Forgiven,” which sets up a
circling waltz of guitar chords, six of one, six of another, repeated. Another
guitar picks its slow way through the mesh, jumping from note to note as if
they were rocks in a stream.  

 

The
danger, with this kind of simplicity and repetition, is that songs will fail to
develop, that they will dissolve into prettiness and Muzak-y ease. Rizzo and Key
barely skirt this problem in tracks like “Hungry,” but, impressively, add just
enough tension to avoid it. For the most part, Double Star is calm
without being lulling, simple without being simplistic. It’s a long way from
both Rizzo and Key’s abrasive roots, but not so far from their last
collaboration, and well worth checking out.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Yes I Wait,” “Forgiven,”
“Insanity Stomp” JENNIFER KELLY

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