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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Risil - Non Metters Vol [Important Records - 2009]

The term supergroup fills me with a sort of indefinable fear and apprehension; it evokes Ė at least to me Ė images of sweaty 70s men with 70s haircuts and 70s outfits, and it seems to say guitar wankery, gorilla drumming and general instrumental chest beating; whatís more, the common supergroup seems defined only by its super-ness.

What matters is names; assign each (super!) member a power level of sorts (Iím translating this in Dragon Ball terms Ė seems appropriate), add up, and the greater the grand total is the better the group, right? Except the whole thing rather seems to work inversely, and the bigger the egos, the worse the music, and the music is, in the end, what itís all about, mind you.

The line-up of Risil reads much like a supergroup. Among their members we  find Guillermo Herren (of Prefuse 73), Zach Hill (of Hella), John McEntire (of Tortoise), Tyondai Braxton (of Battles), and an array of other musicians with enough indie cred to float an aeroplane over the sea, so to say, if you catch my drift. Needless to say, Iím not entirely sure what to think (that is, prior to actually spinning the disc, seeing as it comes in sealed, I have read the credits before Iíve even unwrapped the thing, and so Iíve already started to stumble towards an opinion; oh, prejudices!), yet I also have the best of hopes, as several of the involved musiciansí projects strike a chord with me, especially the drum heavy bands like Hella and Battles. Seeing as six out of the eleven people involved here, moreover, are credited for some sort of percussion (ranging from, simply, drums, to bells, cymbals and beat boxing), Iím actually expecting a good deal of this disc.

Non Meters Vol. 1 turns out to be surprisingly non-drum-heavy; percussion sometimes plays a clear, foregrounded role (like on Was Once for Zanzo), where it rattles away particularly pleasantly, yet often enough itís a more whimsical, modest clicking and tapping, backgrounded and seeming the minor character in this play. Instead, various vocals drift ever more often to the foreground, male and female, ethereal and matter-of-factly, wavering and sharply outlined, while the slight soundscapes are further filled by a range of electronic cuts and clicks, gentle drones, guitar picking, and so on. Itís a quite pleasant sound, at the best of times surprisingly warm and homely (like on Oxygen Path), somewhere in between Prefuse 73, Tortoise and folktronica. Itís easy on the ear but no easy listening; handsome but not (too) pretty.

Yet despite its enjoyable sound, Non Meters Vol. 1 is otherwise largely lacking any clear direction, any focus; for close to an hour, it drifts from track to track and mood to mood without ever really seeming to peak, or anything really seeming to stand out (leave for the two tracks I named earlier). Itís unfortunate, for it seems to add very little to the growing heap of indietronics material, and the heap grows on and on and soon to the ear and eye it seems little more than a mountain of fragments interchangeable, and it does not manage to excite enough, and itís out of sight, then out of heart, falls into ruin, and itís, in the end, just a Wasteland, fragments of things we no longer remember or recall.

Non Meters Vol. 1 is by no means bad, and itís a good listen for as long as it lasts, but itís also too forgettable, too undefined to leave any lasting impression. Yet it does not fully meet my expectations in a supergroup sort of way, in that itís infinitely more enjoyable than anything traditional supergrouply, and thatís a good thing, and it goes to show that, supergrouply speaking, 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 need not always be, paradoxically, 1, or maybe 2, but it can also be 3 (though Iíve yet to hear the sensible 4, and anything beyond it, to convince me), and for that reason alone, Risil already commands some respect. Not too much though. Letís wait and see what Vol 2 will have to offer.

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Sven Klippel
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