LP Edition of 400 Artwork & Design by Robert Beatty. Bandcamp
The sixth LP by NYC trio, Rhyton, is as heavy as an Egyptian space-funeral. The vibe of this masterful album is fully embodied by its gorgeous Robert Beatty cover art, which looks like a Mati Klarwein reinterpretation of Tony Scott’s ’68 Verve LP, Music for Yoga Meditation.
Rhyton was formed in 2011 by Dave Shuford & fellow travelers, with a notion to balance the songwriterly stance of D. Charles Speer with something more improvisation based.
As Shuford says, “Originally we took certain international rock icons, mainly European and Japanese touchstones, to be points of departure. In general, and as the drummer changed, some of the influences stateside came more to the fore. Improvisation, though still prevalent, began to take a secondary role in the creative method. The studio has continually increased its position as a focused tool for the group, dating back to the Kykeon album and expanding again on this latest batch. Studio – structure – rupture – living asunder.”
Pharaonic Crosstalk was recorded at Gary’s Electric studio in Greenpoint in bits and pieces, when it wasn’t being used otherwise. The process was begun about four years ago, and really only got finished when the Plague shut things down.
The sound this time has evolved as Shuford suggests. Drummer Rob Smith shows some of the lessons he must have learned while studying with Bernard Purdie, lending even the zoniest sections a groove-oid bottom that won’t stop. And this does not infer boogie tendencies, so much as a solid new approach to fundamentals.
Shuford’s multivalent string aktion, combined with Jimmy SeiTang’s wonderful bass/keyboard dualism and Smith’s provocative percolation make this an album of crazy hybridized stoned space-funk-psych-fusion while still manifesting experimental highlights. It is a heady goddamn brew. And never more so than when Al Carlson (who engineered the session) is guesting on sax or the great Tennessee roots pianist, Hans Chew, shows up on clavinet (who knew)!
Pharaonic Crosstalk is one of the sweetest bubbles of expressed space-time we’ve heard in a good long while. Super hard to pin down (like so many truly great records), its contours are a glorious mind-fuck for listeners of all ages.
–Byron Coley, 2021