Robert Katz, Staff Writer
Rhine Gold, the newest LP from Choir of Young Believers, is one of the more mysterious albums as of late. Not because it’s completely minimalistic or says nothing about itself or ignores the listener and focuses on its own wants, but because it’s so darned gorgeous.
Nothing about the album’s background is particularly shady (although its surprising lack of notoriety and somewhat high cost are a bit odd); its mystifying qualities can be heard entirely in its sound.
The pop Scandinavian group helmed by singer-songwriter Jannis Noya Makrigiannis maintains the lightly-strummed guitar, vaguely-orchestral influences, echo-y atmosphere and, of course, dreamily spacey voice of Makrigiannis. However, it does give up some of the pomp and flourish of its predecessor, This Is for the White in Your Eyes, for a more refined profoundness.
The difference at first isn’t very distinct; there’s the gradually crescendoing introductory track, the graceful strains of strings and a trademark calmness to everything. Perhaps the best omen for what Makrigiannis has decided on was also the first: “Patricia’s Thirst,” a highly-replayable throwback to late 20th century synth-pop, was the record’s debut single and, early on, takes the the album in a very electronic direction that does become much less pronounced for the majority of the record, but certainly works (it even makes some of the group’s tracks a little more radio-ready). Makrigiannis’s rich, chilly voice blends seamlessly with the subtly-computerized atmosphere.
Something has been removed from the formula, though. The swollen, orchestral flavoring of White In Your Eyes has been removed in favor of the aforementioned digitization. There are no more epics akin to that LP’s “Next Summer;” instead, there are cooler, simpler tracks that feel like palette cleansers in a music-scape big on overproduction and constant action.
That’s part of what adds to the mystique of Rhine Gold, though. It’s haunting, expansive (without being bloated), self-restrained and, put in simplest terms, beautiful.
Image courtesy of Ghostly International.