‘Rites Wild’ is the project of Stacy Wilson an Adelaide based musician and this whole album was performed and recorded in her own home (according to bandcamp which I read after reviewing the album) and this is certainly not apparent from a blind listening because it’s good, really good.
This album, without wanting to be kissing anyone’s back-side, has a fantastic atmosphere. But it’s hard to talk about this album without drawing some comparisons to the influences Wilson references in her work although, equally, that isn’t in a bid to ignore the original innovations on here because Wilson fits into the very Australian home-brand of self-obsessed, noisy, angst ridden post-punk.
On the first track ‘Ways of Being’, the drum track is reminiscent of Bauhaus’s mid-career work, it’s a very satisfying thud. The synths and main melody are interesting, the sound itself is clean against the background sounds and other instruments but it is very NDW to me in its depressive yet bright melody. The sharp and textured dub influences (again evoking Bauhaus) that echo and shimmer in the background are very well used and placed and make this an innovative track. ‘Ill Health’ keeps the dub influences but also has a heavier, noisier bass line over the simple percussion. The vocals are really reverb heavy and are accompanied by some percussive hits that echo with it. But it works, it really does, it’s a great way to make the vocals the feature and it’s dark and moody. ‘Thieves’ again demonstrates some well designed synth features, the setting sounds very church organ based which is pretty hard to use successfully (imo that is) but it comes through here.
‘Detatched Living’ uses the same pallet of sounds (obviously) that were used in previous tracks and initially my reaction was that this was too similar to what came previously but it draws you in. The synth features develop well to have a higher and lower end that work together and make a rolling, ebbing groove that is fairly mesmerizing. ‘Make Plans’ and ‘Seasonal Shine’ have some very repetitive bass lines that are industrial sounding – think ‘Health and Efficiency’ by ‘This Heat’. ‘Seasonal Shine’ it a sultry little track but a little unadventurous at times. ‘Work Ethic’ is similarly a good track but it would benefit from some more of the vocal features from before which are fairly minimal on ‘Work Ethic’. ‘Signs’ is more satisfying in this respect, the dub influences are a lot stronger here and they make this (although this has already been stated) interesting and there is a greater vocal presence that is to the strength of this track. ‘Deep Ocean Sands’ is the last song on here with a ponderous bass line, I like the way more sounds get overlaid on top of this song towards the end but this again could have come a little sooner.
My issue with this album is that if you prefer the reverb heavy, vocal feature work that appears on the first half of the album the second half leaves you wanting somewhat. However, this is a solid album and a positive continuation of the sounds and features of the, in want of a better word, “gothier”, post-punk ethos of The Birthday Party, DAF or Grauzone albeit with some seriously nice dub drum tracks, just sweet dubby goodness, but the repetitive melodies don’t cover much new ground. That said, the formula does work, you’re just given some captivating stuff at the start that doesn’t reappear necessarily.
‘Ways of Being’ comes out on Not Not Fun Records on October 30, 2012.
Buy/hear it here: http://riteswild.bandcamp.com/album/ways-of-being-lp-2012-nnf