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Rah Bras
Ruy Blas!
Lovitt Records


I think it was the late Bela Lugosi, whilst taking a swig of peach brandy and trying to light one of those really long cigarettes at the same time, who once said in his best Eastern European Dracula drawl, "Rah Bras." No, not really; Iím just pulling your leg. Itís just this band has such an obscure name I had to comment on it. When I say Rah Bras I have to do this Dracula-like voice because on the CD they use this crazy font that is really foreign and futuristic and archaic all at once. No, really check out the font, itís really special. Rah Bras also title their songs funny names like "Spankish Flies" and "Bitchin Fissure" which scores big on the rock absurdity scale.

The music is not nearly absurd enough to match the titles, but nevertheless the songs strive valiantly for a place in the post-Devo pop music pyramid of synthetic delights. Technically the timbre includes a modest trio of keyboard, bass, and drums with male/female vocals. If The Swans made creepy sweet love to Le Tigre, Rah Bras would come out of that odd womb. This trio has some sly art school humor mixed with their crystalline electro music. Half of the songs are sci-fi smirks at conformity and the other half are pulsating, raucous beats with some siren screaming minus any ear-piercing anger. Eclecticism is a word that is cheap and edible but seems to fit the bill here, but keep in mind only so many notes can be produced by a synth, drums, and bass and therefore attempts at incorporating gamelan melodies are half-baked at best. I feel empty after listening to Ruy Blas!, not like my-life-is-meaningless-and-death-is-imminent empty, but more like I-just-ate-some-Chinese-food-and-saw-a-Steven-Spielberg-movie-and-I-canít-remember-doing-either-30-minutes-after empty. Best thing about this CD sadly enough is the CD insert art. The band is posing with their wiggy colored hairdos in mysterious neo-glam poses (Eno and Bowie-not RATT). The photos are charged with (bi)sexual ambiguity and are evocatively composed. The gender-bending and bubblegum blowing arenít backed up by any iconoclastic sound though.

What is lacking in this record is cohesion. Either it is my lack of imagination or there is something stale about the melodies. Rah Bras would probably be fantastic live, but on record the textures fall flat. Dynamics are exciting and maybe that is the missing component. When the tempo speeds up or slows down the mix stays at the same level producing a distancing effect that I donít understand. I am a product of the VCR generation, I need either fireworks or whispers, but that is solely my fault. What this band is trying to communicate to me has been lost in the translation. Despite my petty critiques, these strangelings have a saving grace called "potential" and I would be intrigued to hear the musiciansí previous bands or their next offering. Other bands the artists have been in include: Damn Near Red, Maximillian Colby, Sleepytime Trio, Hose.Got.Cable, Menís Recovery Project, and Bats & Mice. Somebody told me that Sleepytime Trio kicks ass, so my recommendation is skip the Bras and go straight for the Undies, whatever that means.

-Joseph Martinez

Track Listing:

  1. Bababoon
  2. Arty O The Irst Art
  3. Civic
  4. Nux
  5. Sooop Toe Pump Girls
  6. Gently Jeanrah
  7. Fungry
  8. Homofuge
  9. Hardoard
  10. Spankish Flies
  11. Cleavage Multrum
  12. Bitchin Fissure

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Mike Doughty



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