The info sheet accompanying the promo for Sessions, the debut EP from UK progressive rock instrumentalists Rhoda May, waxes lyrical about band and it has to be said that after being washed over by its absorbing potency and imaginative aural narratives the release offers, you can only agree with rather than doubt the claims made. The six track release is a magnetic slice of sonic majesty, a sextet of songs which tease and ignite the imagination without ever over doing anything. The tracks tempt and hint rather than paint exact pictures and with an uncluttered sinewed beauty only seduce the imagination and passions to a full acceptance and hunger for EP and band.
The Surrey trio of guitarist Will Pain, bassist Andy Page, and drummer Mark Sanger originally conceived the idea of Rhoda May mid-2012 but it was not until last year that the long-time friends officially formed the band after a local venue promoter who happened to overhear the band rehearsing asked them to support UK hip hop/metal pioneers Senser. From that debut show the threesome has gone on to support the likes of Heights, Freeze The Atlantic, and Three Trapped Tigers, all the time increasing their emerging presence. Their first release consists of the 347 and 589 live sessions recorded with producer Jason Wilson (We Are The Ocean, Reuben, Dinosaur Pile Up) and James Kirk respectively. All tracks were recorded as live takes for a series of live videos filmed & directed by Emma Dalesman and now get their appearance together as an EP release, six songs which cast a mouth-watering adventure of modern rock.
All the tracks upon Sessions are simply numbered which allows the listener to interpret the songs without any prompting or nudging which even a song title can do; the slices of absorbing creative invention the only persuasion upon thoughts and emotions. As opener #3 strolls into view with the guitar of Pain jangling seductively around the ear as the gentle rhythmic incitement of Sanger coaxes equal attention, there is an instantaneous connection as a familiarity and mesmeric bait washes the senses. The bass of Page offers a no less potent lure, again with an initial reserve and provocative tone which sparks attention. There is a surf rock essence to the melodic guitar sculpting throughout which is an easy appetiser but it is merely one spice in the melodic rock enticement emerging tantalisingly. Overall the track is a flight through rugged yet radiant climes and textures, never so thick in sounds and structures to threaten or slow its fluidity and riveting adventure but using the simplicity that a mere three instruments can produce to transfix and almost belie the undoubted craft and intensively shaped enterprise.
It is a masterful start soon equalled by the scorched sonic landscape of #4, a track which smoulders with heavy rock rapaciousness whilst conjuring a melodic luminance which sways and bewitches like a fire bred temptress. As with its predecessor the piece is unafraid to slow its muscular power to offer tender superbly crafted enticements or once comfortable licking and teasing the passions to rile things up and open the gates to another surge of sonically forging metallic endeavour.
Both #7 and #5 continue the powerfully impressive entrance of release and band, the first an evocative melodically poetic piece of predacious rock which delivers a slight eighties goth rock breath to the guitar whilst the latter is a scuzz kissed fuzz rock persuasion to eagerly indulge in and imaginatively contemplate. As mentioned earlier there is at times a familiarity which coats elements and passages of tracks, this pair being no exception, but it only adds to the strength and colour of the tracks as they spark mind and passions with their delicious bait and rigorous creative charm.
#8 takes the listener by the hand and leads them into a compelling soar through weather battered rocky terrain lit by melodic beauty and invention which again simply ignites the senses and imagination with sublime ease. Rhoda May perform musical alchemy at times across the EP and especially within this engrossing and mentally invigorating venture. Its triumph is almost shaded by the excellent closing track #9. From its mischievously nagging entrance of jagged riffs and alluring sixties bred guitar enchantment the track expands to build an emotionally textured soundscape, drums and bass crafting heavy dark infused skies beneath which emotive and provocative mastery urges thoughts to build their own adventure. It is a scintillating end to an outstanding debut.
It is fair to say that Pain primarily grabs attention with his guitar skill and invention but do not assume that Page and Sanger are part players, the trio converging as Rhoda May to create something which needs and exploits every element to create an impressive stunning sound. With thoughts of bands such as Deftones, KingBathmat, Palms, and early Cure amongst others showing their prompts throughout but never to overwhelm something that is original and fascinating, Sessions gives evidence of Rhoda May’s PR claim that they could be “the next band to nationally break.”
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