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Cesarians - Rachel Frieda (Glass Records Modern)

10 September 2020

A cinematic work of intelligence, starting with subtle drones and emotive vocals. 

On September 18th, the London-based Cesarians return with their third long player. Rachel Frieda is an album that continues the powerful hat trick of creativity, and diversity. The previous Cesarians 1 (2009) and Pure White Speed (2015), gave audiences a view into their art rock framework. But, it feels as though those albums were only dry runs for Rachel Frieda, that maturity, and confidence appears apparent. The Cesarians are taking risks with their sound, stretching their limitations, and the audience is certainly the  better for it. 

The overture to this latest journey is “Pig In The Mattress”. A cinematic work of intelligence, starting with subtle drones and emotive vocals. A slow-burning, dramatic atmosphere builds around the vocals of Charlie Finke. With a dense fog instrumentation from co-writer Justine Armatage, and the remainder of bassist Budge Magraw, drummer Ed Grimshaw, and the haunting violin sound of Christine Lehmann create organic flourishes. Though the erupting vocals of Bev Crome, spirals the hopelessness closer to the edge of the abyss. It is a wholesome sound, and it glides gently into the stark “Antichrist”. Here the eruption of an addictive riff against a haunting landscape swirls. It is an exceptional experience where indie music fuses with progressive structures creating something to get fully immersed within. 

The playful strings that herald the triumphant sound of “LSDeanna”. They create the perfect scene for the stuttering beats, in some obscure fucked-up ELO world, this track is magnificent. It strides through art-rock, a sound most bands crave but don’t have the balls to execute it properly. A clear jazz sound is somewhere in the mix, and that leads into the mournful, descending piano of “Death in London”. This creates a very dramatic soundscape, a ballad that twists in darkness, leaps at times as if drowning and trying to reach the surface. Whereas the opening drones of “Diesel” relent to release a very uplifting moment on Rachel Frieda. The strength of talent within the band shines, and again things pick up pace in one of the albums finest moments “Anything, Everything”. With a clatter of drums, a distorted guitar line, and perhaps a harpsichord, the track breathes intense life. The dual vocals and loose feel give it that sixties flavour, and truly creates something special. 

This momentum continues into “Going Blonde”. A carousel of chanting backgrounds surrounds the main vocal lines, as the track builds until the listener feels they are about to explode under the weight of the tremors. The organ fired “Who Who Can” pushes the album forward before it crashes into the arms of “The Sea”. The album closer is an abstract piece of surrealism, with the sounds of the wind, and thumping drums. Rachel Frieda’s finale is the epic it deserves, and “The Sea” winds the album down perfectly. 

There are so many influences on display here. But it is the way these influences and sounds are forged together shows the unique qualities of the Cesarians. Rachel Frieda is not a difficult album to like, in fact it is an enthralling adventure through music. The escapism for those who prefer depth and intervention to what they listen to. This is a band who can conjure up sound from obscurity, and create art, ultimately an outfit to watch.

1.Pig in the Mattress
4.Death in London
6.Anything, Everything
7.Going Blonde
8.Who Who Can
9.The Sea

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