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Group Rhoda – “Out of Time – Out of Touch” – [Night School]

Thurston Hunger   5/4/2013   A Library, CD

group-rhoda-work_1
Pastel ice. Before buying this, I dug samples of Group Rhoda
online, feeling like a blend of cold wave revival with a more
romantic, lyrical approach. Despite its name, Group Rhoda is
neither. It is however a one-woman project put together by
Mara Barenbaum. Interestingly Mara is not some Berlin 80’s
frau fatale, but working today out of nearby San Francisco!
She’s got an interesting clipped accent when she sings, and
her phrases (and word choices) have an odd aspect, the Remind
me of a person in a crowd viewing a painting, who comments
solely on the frame. The framing here is an array of
sibilant drum machines that sashay and banks of keys, lot’s
of bright electric piano style, rather than the icy stark
sounds of yesteryears synth pop. Ornate little arpeggiated
bridges. Topics match the classical minimal vibe, scary
stuff like isolation…silence….lawyers… “I get so scared”
and “To walk away without a trace.” I could see some
ambient types remixing this in a lot of directions,
cranking up the haunted vibe or adding some organic warmth.
I expect live, things are more austere and maybe more
driven. But I kind of dig the airbrush leisure on some
of the tracks, not quite as happy as Arthur Russell but
more in that vein than the Suicide citings. And again her
singing put me off a little at first but really won me over,
as if she went to an English as a second language class taught
by Yoko Ono. Nice release, and kicks ass vs the Mary Tyler
Moore Project!
-Thurston Hunger

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