March 23, 2011

Part of an elaborate ruse to dupe you into attending this Friday’s show.

Rainbow Arabia operate in the borderlands between former tour mates Gang Gang Dance and The Knife. Thus far, the comparisons have somewhat overshadowed the music itself — an olla podrida of international styles intended for audiences who have eaten olla podrida (I have not, but it looks disgusting).

Balancing a love of the Subliminal Frequencies compilations with 80s noir-wave pop (Depeche Mode, New Order, OMD)., they incorporate everything from African trance groove to Middle Eastern folk to a well-subliminated love of Desmond Dekker. A local staple over the last three years, their new album Boys and Diamonds finds them making the leap to Kompakt, one of the world’s most celebrated techno imprints. Accordingly, they’ve absorbed a penchant for an icy minimalism that melts smoothly into their equatorial influences. In contrast to their cognates, Matthew Perpetua aptly described them as “going to a different place with a familiar template. More physical, less programmed. More sparkling, less goth. More island, less tundra.” After all, it never really freezes in LA.

The sticking point for naysayers will probably be Tiffany Preston’s voice. Admittedly, it’s a make-or-break proposition. Her singing style eschews slickness for staccato rhythms, hop-scotching through each track with attention but not total adherence to the melody. At times, it even reminds me of a less jarring version of Satomi from Deerhoof. If that doesn’t sound like an endorsement, you might not like this record. But in the live context, even inveterate cynics are likely to find themselves charmed. Despite the pretentiousness of the influence list, there’s a unprocessed approach to performance. Slicing guitars, hard drum machines, and danceable grooves. It’s supposed to be fun. I think it is.

Rainbow Arabia – Without You by Kompakt. Uploaded with BandPage by RootMusic

We rely on your support to keep POW alive. Please take a second to donate on Patreon!