If music came equipped with a carnival equivalent, listening to Rahim’s Jungles would be like riding a kiddie-town coaster that rises at most three feet before picking up speeds unlikely to awaken the sleeping six-year-old next to you.
Luckily, listening to music is not like hitting up Six Flags. Don’t tell the guys in Sigur Rós, but sometimes music need not dramatically build and fall through crescendos and climaxes. Sometimes even the opposite — a flat line of tension — works out just fine. New York-based threesome Rahim (formerly Radio Raheem) demonstrates this on the four-song EP Jungles, which follows a handful of seven-inch singles from as early as 2001 and prefaces the band’s upcoming full-length, due before the end of the year.
We all know it’s become cliché to throw around Gang of Four references, but Rahim borrows heavily from the group on three distinct points:
- Much like Gang of Four drummer Hugo Burnham, Rahim timekeeper Philip Sutton deals primarily with grove-oriented, tumbling riffs — despite the wandering, on-his-own bass work of Ryan McCoy — that keep their distance from the dance floor by avoiding the disco pulse and opting for more creative measures. The urge to dance might still arrive on “Gasoline,” but Sutton never sticks with a single riff long enough to build to any climax or, how do you say, get the indie kids dancing.
- Michael Friedrich’s guitar work stabs and slashes in exercises in minimalism. “One at a Time” has him choosing his notes without much care for filling out the sound — his guitar acts more like a percussive instrument. Andy Gill’s sitting somewhere smiling, but then again a whole load of D.C. kids have rubbed off on Friedrich as well.
- Remember the chorus to “Damaged Goods”? That whole call and response part, “Oh-ah-o-oh?” Friedrich and McCoy work like that by beckoning to each other and intertwining their parts, which is best exemplified on “Trebuchet.” Like McCoy’s bass playing and Friedrich’s guitar swipes (and pretty much all of Jungles for that matter), the dual vocals wander without any sense of direction, solidifying this EP as the near antithesis of dynamic rock.