Rangda are an instrumental power trio comprised of guitarists Sir Richard Bishop (formerly of Sun City Girls) and Ben Chasny (Six Organs of Admittance, Comets on Fire, Current 93) and drummer Chris Corsano (Björk, Six Organs of Admittance, Sunburned Hand of the Man). Their 2010 debut album, False Flag, was improvised and recorded on the spot. It wove together rock & roll's pyrotechnics, free jazz's harmonic and rhythmic instincts, and various world music influences. It was brash, kinetic, and musically fascinating -- if occasionally indulgent. Formerly Extinct is a much more formal album. Chasny and especially Bishop are deeply influenced by numerous styles of music from Middle Eastern and Mediterranean traditions. The eight tunes -- collaboratively written by all the bandmembers -- call on these musical traditions often, but never get stuffy or sanctimonious. Formerly Extinct is first and foremost an instrumental rock & roll album. Check out the opener, "Idol's Eye"; its minor-key signature allows the impression that this is some Persian melody, but the dual leads and staccato picking, the big chord bridge, and the reverb and twang also suggest Dick Dale, the Ventures, and even early psychedelic rock. "Silver Nile," at just under 12 minutes, is the set's longest track; it begins as a slowly evolving drone-like melody that (very) eventually becomes an Eastern European-flavored dance tune with guitars wailing. "Plugged Nickel" uses a seemingly perpetual six-note riff with manic drumming from Corsano that explores the margins. The guitars eventually take to the fringes too. Chasny gets his best Comets on Fire freak squall on before Bishop's chords abandon the riff altogether, and creates a thundering processional out of it to close. "Manjun" has a labyrinthine lyric line that moves so far inside itself that it eventually collapses amid swells of percussion, feedback, and psych guitar wailing -- before it slips gears and begins with the original melody again, played more dramatically. The three-plus-minute "Night Porter" is riff-heavy guitar freakout at its best, with screaming six-strings meeting and answering one another as Corsano uses his entire kit to create not only tension but catharsis with finesse and power. Formerly Extinct is a striking improvement on its predecessor. It showcases both sides of the trio's prowess: Rangda's ability to improvise dynamically and also to compose compelling, creating mysterious tunes that cross genres with ease and acumen.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek