Posts Tagged ‘Rachel Mason’

Cleopatra Records / Practical Records – 23rd June 2017

Interdisciplinary artist Rachel Mason has spent the best part of the last two decades carving out her own niche from within the hotbed of the NYC and LA scenes, with music being only one of the many strands of her creative explorations. In between making films, sculptures, and creating performance art pieces which range from the playful to the weird, she’s released quite a lot of albums. Her latest, Das Ram, is billed as ‘a full-blown modern pop-rock album of catchy songs with flamboyant flavor, dramatic vocals in between Siouxsie Sioux and SIA, captivating melodies and poignant lyrics’.

It’s not easy to focus on the lyrics, poignant or otherwise, when there’s so much going on. Das Ram is an album that’s very much geared toward delivering songs with groove and big energy. ‘Rosie’ kicks off with a delicate shoegazey pop verse that blossoms into a glorious chorus propelled by a super-frenetic drum machine with hectic hi-hats and a glistening, glittering energy shimmers.

Rachel Mason 2 - credit Kerwin Williamson

Das Ram is an eclectic set, and wildly varied. The dramatic orchestral strikes which jut and jar through ‘Heart Explodes’ provide a dramatic landscape for Mason to prowl through en route to a soaring chorus which indicates what Florence and the Machine could sound like if Flo Welch and her crew had any grasp on subtlety.

Single cut ‘Tigers in the Dark’ is a flamboyant gothic-hued disco cut that pulls together the danger of Siouxsie with the brooding electropop sensibilities of Ladytron or Goldfrapp. ‘Marry Me’ goes all Disintegration-era Cure in the mid-section, but Mason’s vaguely shrill and increasingly desperate-sounding imploring to form marital unity (part Kate Bush, part PJ Harvey) is actually quite scary. You’d probably agree just to avert the danger of being strangled in your sleep, although it would only be a temporary postponement).

‘Cancer’ is a wild, woozy ride, a blizzard of wibbling electronica and car horns and stammering programmed drum ‘n’ bass percussion providing the sonic terrain for lyrics that veer from the abrasive to the abstract. ‘The end stage is on!’ she squeals as a refrain before a gritty, funk-infused bass cuts in half way through.

Das Ram is good. Really good. It’s a pop album, and one which will evoke myriad comparisons. And it’ll touch them all favourably, because Rachel Mason assimilates her influences in a way which isn’t merely derivative, but innovative, and Das Ram is an album which wanders through infinite shades of weird, and bristles with tension and myriad shades of darkness.

Spiegelman/Rachel Mason

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To coincide with the release of the album Das Ram, Rachel Mason has teamed up with Eric Leiser to produce a really rather trippy promo video for the track ‘Queen Bee’.

“I was invited to watch a beekeeper work while on an artist’s residency. The gender dynamics are so unique,” says Rachel Mason. “There is one matriarch – the Queen Bee, surrounded by a massive, buzzing population. It’s fascinating to witness the dynamic of power and to think about that on a psychological level – a female with that much power, surrounded by hundreds of workers who are there to pollinate crops, which humans depend on. They have total determination towards a single goal.”

Created by Eric Leiser, an award-winning NYC-based artist, filmmaker, animator, puppeteer, writer and holographer, the new video underlines this track’s intensity. He commented, “I was drawn to the symbolic subtext of this song. Bees are presently in danger of extinction, stemming from decades of environmental degradation. These amazing insects are among the most important creatures to humans, pollinating over 80% of all flowering plants including 70 of the top 100 food crops.”

“For me, the inner story is of a powerful female burdened with providing for the hive when she would rather pursue secret inclinations,” says Leiser. "Animating up to 50 individual bees in the dense swarm sequences was my personal challenge. As an artist I always attempt to push the animation toward new dimensions of visual complexity in hopes of creative evolution.”

Watch the video for ‘Queen Bee’ here: