Dead Rider

Chills on Glass

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AllMusic Review by

As evidenced by their two previous Tizona offerings, 2011's The Raw Dents and 2013's Mother of Curses, Dead Rider is a virtually non-classifiable musical entity. Founded by former U.S. Maple guitarist Todd Rittman, this quartet -- which also includes saxophonist Noah Tabakin, keyboardist/trumpeter Andrea Faught, and drummer Matt Espy -- makes music from the rhythm section out. There are numerous warring influences here -- Captain Beefheart's Magic Band, Butthole Surfers, Prince, David Bowie, Funkadelic, and many more -- but none creates a comfortable pigeonhole. Chills on Glass, their debut for Drag City, is woollier than the two-headed dog cover illustration suggests; it's also dark, murky, steamy, and funny. A dubwise bassline and funky backbeat introduce "Blank Screen" before a disembodied spoken female voice wafts in from the ether. Before one can take in what's being said, a whompy synth introduces Rittman and Faught's vocals, layered à la Lodger-era Bowie atop clave-like handclaps, stinging electric guitars, and drum machines. It's shambolic but holds its rhythmic center and groove. "Weaves" features a bassline worthy of the Birthday Party while Rittman, in an intoxicated bedroom croon, undercuts it, countering that feel without minimizing its sinister groove as drums, loops, and angular guitar figures push the track in several different directions simultaneously as the horns create a ghostly backing chorus. "Weird Summer" is a polyrhythmic assemblage of warped pop and art rock. "Sex Grip Enemy" is utterly deconstructed no wave funk, before it becomes a bass-throbbing post-punk stomp. "The Unnatural Act" is electro-fueled horror soul, while "Of One Thousand" is a swaggering hand drum-driven, razor-slashing exercise in cracked funk. "Cry Honey" sounds like Suicide's Martin Rev playing Battles and Prince Rama on backing vocals, with a ragged-ass male lead trying on Bobby Womack. Chills on Glass is the sound of a musical train wreck created by the collision of short-circuited libidinal urges, ridiculous wiseacre humor, willfully exploded genre transgressions, and neo-Dadaist impulses. It's deliberately confusing, oddly seductive, and takes no prisoners.

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