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Rhyton Review

by Fred Thomas

Brooklyn's Rhyton came to be through what the band refers to as an "organic" series of conversations about music between friends and some common ground met over late-night drinks. It's easy to imagine the scene; three dudes with different bands in Brooklyn's neo-psyche/improv circle, hanging out a few cocktails deep and excitedly proposing "We should jam sometime!!" The trio of Dave Shuford (D. Charles Speer & the Helix, No-Neck Blues Band), Jimy SeiTang (Psychic Ills), and Spencer Herbst (Messages, Matta Llama) did indeed jam sometime, and then jammed several shows, and eventually these jams culminated in the megajam that is Rhyton's debut album. Recorded quickly over the course of three days and assembled from the sessions' strongest moments, the five extended instrumentals that make up the album amble by in a constant stream for the most part, happily aimless. Shuford's guitar tones and dual-amp setup easily contribute to the more interesting sounds here, utilizing the stereo spread with bouncing tremolo patterns and disintegrating fuzz. He's allegedly also playing mandolin, baritone guitar, and a Turkish stringed instrument called a saz, but it's hard to pick out much besides crunchy lead guitar. His bandmates' rhythms serve mostly as a backdrop for his soloing and pedal switching, as on the mildly Middle Eastern groove of "Shank Raids." Tracks like "Teké" and album opener "Stone Colored" take on a slightly more developed form, but still read like tentative, searching improvisations, never quite coagulating or reaching a higher plane of group playing. The entire album suffers from this listlessness and lack of dynamics. While all the elements in place hint at what could be inspired and transcendent psyche blowouts, Rhyton stumble through their jams oblivious and dopey, failing to fully connect with each other or take the listener to a place more exciting than a spirited jam session in the practice space.

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