Group Rhoda: Passing Shades (Dark Entries, 2020)

December 21, 2020 at 9:08 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Group Rhoda: Passing Shades

Remaining with Dark Entries for her fourth album as Group Rhoda, Mara Barenbaum inhabits several different sound worlds. The tracks are minimal, yet they’re anything but simplistic, twisting into different movements and switching into different rhythms. The opening interstellar waltz “Float” nearly gets caught in a spiral and slows to a crawl before regaining balance. “The Beauty’s in the Waste” is more upbeat and racing, and while you usually expect to hear stiff android-like vocals with this brand of minimal wave, Barenbaum’s voice is more varied, conversational, and expressive, and it sounds more operatic or phantomlike on other tracks. “Alibi” is a major treat, with a skittering footwork-y rhythm and a super suspenseful breakdown. “Twin Studies” is dreamy cosmic disco, and “This Flame” is a bit slower, more sensual (that bassline!), and more mystical. The invocation-like “Earthly Ark” takes its lyrics from a Margaret Atwood poem, and “Nevermore” bids farewell to a cat who has departed, yet it’s less somber than it might seem.

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