Drive By Review: Rachel Rhodes' “Blue Boxes”
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It's a quick hit of music review lusciousness?
Check out this short, tight feature for some informal fun.
I mean, it’s so quick that if you blink, you might miss it! So, don’t blink; here goes:
I am a sucker for a concept album, so as I listened, this one just took hold and bid me to keep coming. What follows are more purely impressionistic thoughts on what I felt as the album unfolded.
Her album is very ethereal. So far, I have heard “Celeste” and “Cobalt.” Oh, and it JUST occurred to me that all the song titles are shades of the color blue! 😳🤷🏽♀️ How clever.
These songs are to be felt even beyond being listened to. They sound alone and in the dark and, frankly, blue.
All discrete instruments. Intentional sounds that drip and drop into a void, especially on “Ultramarine.” Melting away as they land.
A vocal sample lightly peppers the percussive and short “Midnight.”
“Sapphire” reminds me of a porch wind chimes on a hot, sticky night. Comforting because you feel that you’re not all alone in the universe. That there’s some force greater that is making its presence felt through the wind and heard in the motion of the ringing chimes.
“Non-Photo” was a soundscape of truncated piano patches over a spartan blue rhythm.
“Lagoon” sounds like fog on a swampy bog. I can almost create the music video in my head. That is, until the sound spirals down and out of sight; just like that crane you were just watching that saw you watching it.
“Cornflower” sounds the angriest of the blue moods, actually, which is so antithetical to the actual color. The percussion sounds like a variety of distorted sand paper scratches, but there’s this faint echo of the ghost of an organ lurking off into the distance. The sounds are so extreme that it seems to foreshadow a monster biting the head off a clueless man fishing peacefully on a pond. There is something “other” going on here and it seems ominous.
The one that started with a sweet sampled melody is “Denim.” Still abstract and spare, but hopeful and short.
“Nebula” sounded like a nearly silent space walk. Dark, void, deliberately stepping through; tethered by only a few symphonic notes. There is something serene about it; that is, until you reach the moment of dissonant harmonies right before it concludes.
“Yinmn” —named after a blue that was invented in 2009—is another expression of this blue mood. However, it, like “Cobalt” is more populated with layers of quiet percussive sound.
“Cerulean” is another expression of guttural vocal snatches, but acapella and layered to produce its own rhythm of sorts.
The final selection, “Capri,” ends the album just as quietly as it began with a barely perceptible soundscape that seems to signal the end.
Fourteen short selections all on blue and all boxed up quiet energy, which makes the album’s title, Blue Boxes,” so appropriate.