Review by the Count
Well, one of our all-time favorite Boston bands, the Rentals, echo back to reality with their prime motivating force, techno wizards Jeff and Jane Hudson releasing THE MIDDLE, a cd which includes two re-worked Rentals classics, “Elephants” and “Gertrude Stein.” Opening with the title track, “The Middle” we encounter a forest of cosmic sounds, Jeff Hudson giving an hypnotic reading that climbs a spiral audio ladder gathered from some hidden place of inner space. “Innocent” follows – a haunting melody Jane sings as if locked in some glass prism, the synth-bassline directs as it also drives the dance beat. This music would be perfect to blend into the deep house nights at Club Bohemia in Cambridge, and would merge the underground rock with the dance music which currently play to two separate audiences. The emphatic piano stakes the claim of the song’s title.
With a thump-a-thump bassline Jane indulges Captain (Star Trek Next Generation) Jean Luc Picard’s favorite line with “Make It So,” bringing back thoughts of Boston’s November Group and its explorations of these continuous vibrations and themes. “Friday 1” is simply amazing, 3-D depth with persistence of aural vision. The guitars annunciate as the keyboards set the pace, drums rollicking along as if a human got inside the computer beat
The three minutes and fifty-three seconds of track 6 -“Up Til Now”- groove along with the proficiency we’ve come to expect from the sound research that this collaborative engage in. The vocal reads/sings the lyric in an authoritative manner, commanding to keep up with the soldier like instrumentation. With Greg Hawks going ukulele and Lord Manuel Smith exercising his creativity in an alternate reality, Jeff and Jane have the genre cornered throughout this New England region. This is synth rock meets Metropolis, touches of techno, machine shop, industrial, electronica all swirling and cascading as in the delightful “Forever.”
“Los Alamos” goes back to the themes from the duo’s Manhattan Project back in the 1980’s, Jeff asking the favor, the music on a sideways roller coaster, an eerie piece but one of the best on a consistently solid outing. “Victory” and “Sleet Blues” close out this imaginative disc, dissimilar and making for an interesting conclusion. “Sleet Blues” winding and turning, bordering more on synth jazz than blues, but enough elements of the latter to qualify a spot in the title.