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False Flag

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Album Review

Rock improv trio Rangda takes its name from a powerful, demonic Balinese deity, a witch eternally battling with the forces of good. They are an avant-rock supergroup comprised of guitarists Sir Richard Bishop (Sun City Girls) and Ben Chasny (Six Organs of Admittance, Comets on Fire, Current 93), and drummer Chris Corsano (Björk, Six Organs of Admittance, Sunburned Hand of the Man). Without stretching the name metaphor too far, Rangda's music is the sound of conflict and balance from track to track, as the band displays two distinct personas on False Flag. The first is personified by "Waldorf Hysteria," a two-minute-15-second skronk assault that feels like New York No Wave meeting John Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders on Live in Seattle. An insanely fast surf-like riff is played on a distorted guitar before the other two players enter in full-on counter-soloing insurgency, though there is a pointed focus in the madness. It immediately gives way to the longer "Bull Lore," an exercise in jam-psych that suggests the influence of the late guitarist Sandy Bull. A slow, near-cinematic structural form commences with a military snare and a lone guitar before the other one enters, adding drama and tension. It unfolds gradually into some menacing but melodic soloing, and alluring textural elements underscore it in a rockist frame. "Serrated Edges" is just what it sounds like, with some killer contrapuntal guitar exchanges near the end. The album's masterpiece is its closer, "Plain of Jars," clocking in at over 15 minutes. Bishop gets to display some of his finest Middle Eastern-influenced guitar playing, and Chasny becomes a sonic painter, gradually asserting a voice of balance and beauty. Corsano employs all of his drums, accenting, highlighting, subtly pushing as the cut moves into uncharted terrain. Bishop moves to electric piano in one phase, like another melodic counterpart to the hypnotic rhythms, before the dynamic shifts again, and the guitarists play twinned lines that take the tune somewhere else again. This track and "Bull Lore" are extremely attractive, but the aggressive, noisy material has a distinct appeal as well, and can't be separated from Rangda's — or False Flag's — identity. This music was completely improvised — its in-the-moment creation is ever present, yet it is deeply focused and remarkably cohesive.


Formed: 2009 in United States

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Rangda are named for the Javanese demon queen of the leyaks. This power trio is an instrumental psych rock and no wave-styled noise unit. The bandmembers are guitarists Sir Richard Bishop (Sun City Girls) and Ben Chasny (Six Organs of Admittance, Comets on Fire, Current 93), and drummer Chris Corsano (Björk, Dredd Foole, Jandek, Sunburned Hand of the Man, Six Organs of Admittance, Jim O'Rourke, etc.). Bishop, Chasny, and Corsano live in three distinctly different parts of the United States, making...
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False Flag, Rangda
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