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Songs We Love: Rangda, 'The Sin Eaters'

Rangda is (L-R) Ben Chasny, Chris Corsano and Richard Bishop.
Rangda is (L-R) Ben Chasny, Chris Corsano and Richard Bishop.

"Underground supergroup" could be an oxymoron, but if it's possible that one exists, Rangda is it. The musical resumés of this trio – guitarists Richard Bishop (Sun City Girls) and Ben Chasny (Six Organs of Admittance) alongside drummer Chris Corsano (too many projects to list, though don't forget Björk) – overflow with avant-garde rock, weirdo folk, and improv noise releases. They pour all of that experience into Rangda's jam-packed music, which smashes Eastern-tinted riffs, surf-guitar hooks, and explosions of controlled chaos into tunes wound so tight they threaten to burst at the seams – and often do.

<em>The Heretic's Bargain </em>(Drag City 2016)
/ Courtesy of the artist
<em>The Heretic's Bargain </em>(Drag City 2016)

The Heretic's Bargain, Rangda's third album, is their tightest effort to date. Bishop and Chasny sound like a two-headed dog chasing a single tail, threading wired lines around Corsano's sturdy beats like helixes circling a cylinder. On "The Sin Eaters," that coil is as mesmerizing as a hypnosis wheel. The song builds so persistently across its three-minute duration that every peak spawns a new mountain for the trio to scale. At points Rangda sound almost like a classic-rock power trio, albeit one more interested in drowning your ears than soothing them.

That head-soaking effect is matched by the video for "The Sin Eaters", a stop-motion collage crafted by Elisa Ambrogio (of the band, Magik Markers). "This song has a fractal quality to my ears, like a Mandelbrot set, expanding and mathematical, repeating and changing incrementally," says Ambrogio, and her images accordingly pulse with bright colors and creepy symbols. Skulls fly by, a cat's head emerges on a human body, and eyeballs bounce around, apparently inspired by the song's title. "I was thinking about the phrase 'sin eaters,' thinking of those commercials that had scrubbing bubbles," Ambrogio says. "I was thinking of little bubble men eating your sin." It seems the band themselves have been eaten by the end – their heads appear on stakes, surrounded by skulls – but the only sin that "The Sin Eaters" might be guilty of is perfection.

The Heretic's Bargain is out now on Drag City.

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