Rolo Tomassi – Cosmology

Release Date 24/05/2010 (Hassle Records)

By Chris Oliver

It is said that in medieval times, certain harmonic relations were forbidden in Church music – with one particular harmony referred to as ‘the devil in music’. One would assume, then, that if Rolo Tomassi went back in time and performed in a medieval church, that they would probably be taken out the back and burned at the first opportunity.

The people who make up stupid names for genres will probably call it ‘math metal’, ‘math-core’ or ‘horror-jazz’ but in general, although this album seems like it may have been written to sound as dissonant, confusing and unsettling as possible, moments like the end of ‘Unromance’ and the beginning of ‘Kasia’ and the song ‘Cosmology’ show how genuinely musical it is.

The first track is bizarrely titled ‘Katzenklavier’ [German for ‘cat piano’] which I couldn’t resist Googling. The result is not what you think (unless you are twisted) and the Wikipedia article is not to be missed.

Other highlights include the utterly insane timings of ‘French Motel’ and also ‘Unromance’ – the track I first described as sounding like ‘the theme tune from Magnum P.I. crossed with pneumonic plague’ – a description which I stick by. ‘Kasia’ teams up with ‘Sakia’ to make an 8 minute two-parter which is my favourite segment of this record. It’s accessible enough not to be distracting, but heavy enough to be moving.

Many a moment on this album takes me back to my youth playing video games like Metroid. I feel like I should be watching a cut-scene of arriving on a space station or blowing up some serious aliens. The only lyric I have really managed to make out – which I am actually rather fond of – is ‘the movers and shakers and candlestick makers’.

The final track ‘Cosmology’ starts out sounding like a Hawaiian island classic, and to be fair, listened to in isolation, it’s something of an indie/emo ballad – or perhaps a Faith No More b-side. It stands apart from most songs on this record by virtue of its clean vocal sound. Lead vocalist Eva proves she can sing as well as scream, and in fairness, the propensity of screaming and vocal distortion may be partly down to the highly effective vocal double-team with keyboard player and second vocalist James. This clever synergy makes it often sound like there is one incredibly large-lunged beast belting out impossibly violent and evil noises

If you like crazy metal, Mr Bungle or the feeling of being confused and disturbed by your stereo – or if you want to scare the bejeezus out of your kids, then this is the album for you.

2 responses

21 05 2010
wallernotweller

great review… have a read of an interview i did with james recently http://wallernotweller.wordpress.com/2010/04/19/rolo-tomassi-interview/

22 05 2010
Chris

Thanks. I wish I had read that interview before I did the review – it gives some really nice background. I think they are a really good band – and based on your interview, James seems like a nice, down-to-earth guy. It’s good to see that kind of attitude in musicians.

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