RMCK by RMCKRelease date: June 19, 2017
Label: Solid Choice Industries
There was a time when I was aware of pretty much every act actively extolling their virtues in Northern Ireland’s music scene. However, that knowledge seems to be dissipating somewhat, with the exception of the workings of Solid Choice Industries. This is the label/gig promotion set-up bringing us RMCK, whose identity is only known to those involved in the creation of this debut e.p. RMCK. The limited Press Release teases by informing us that RMCK is only interested in making music they find interesting and it is not yet known if live performances will be forthcoming (do it!). RMCK plays and loops a heavily distorted banjo. Stay with me, this is actually a very good thing indeed.
Recorded at Start Together Studios, Norn Iron’s very own Abbey Road, RMCK is joined by Ben McAuley on drums, though his appearances are not intrusive unless called to do so. With only 5 tracks stretched over an economic 14 minutes, things get off to an intriguing start with ‘Mercer’ which is simultaneously swirling, shimmering and haunting. The ringing tones play a little havoc with my tinnitus but don’t let that deter you, the banjo has a unique sound and tone. Ben’s drums sit low in the mix and the combination of distortion and clean sounds is an intricate weave, the density of the layers building mesmerising patterns. There’s just enough going on to keep your interest after the initial intrigue of the instrumentation subsides.
The more menacing nagging loop of ‘Altered 4’ is jumped on by acerbic shards of metallic riffs. Label mate Robyn G. Shiels describes RMCK perfectly as “Duane Dennison with a banjo”, the twisty riffs most comparable to that of The Jesus Lizard’s six stringer. The urgency of this track raises the tempo but it’s over before it’s given a chance to really get you involved. ‘Sickness from Cure’ features an intricate pattern of loops, Ben gets to have a cuppa while the sinister folk backdrop is delicately splashed with pretty lead lines.
On his return, well rested, Ben gets to settle into a basic beat on ‘Dem Devi’ before letting his kit explode into life. At this stage, the novelty of hearing looped banjos is now perhaps beginning to fade a little. The track veers away from melody in favour of something more abrasive and mathematical, albeit the most dynamic track on the e.p. Closing track ‘7 and in Between’ has lovely melodies over a basic but oddly timed loop. The plucking is glorious and pretty little flourishes that are mighty fine get your intrigue going again and you realise that this novel idea could be expanded with some other similarly sounding instrumentation.
This brief little collection of repetitive and addictive earworms have been rattling around my headspace for weeks now. Prince once informed us there was “joy in repetition” and the wondrous loops on this e.p. bring much enjoyment. I’m hopeful RMCK does indeed get round to bringing these sounds to life with some gigs and also making more music that interests them. Folk metal for metal folk.