Rrope Self-Titled (Smilex)
Cryptic and clamorous, San Francisco's Rrope join the ever-growing phalanx of bands bent on creating seriously enigmatic sounds within the "rock" framework of guitars, bass and drums. On this, their debut CD, Rrope's four collaborators have managed to assemble a high-caliber suite of noisy nuggets, stuff sure to quicken the pulse of those partial to the strident sounds of such groups as Thinking Fellers, Slug and Trumans Water.
Rrope charge into things with "Step Right Up," an attention-getting punch in the ear packed with clanging, yowling guitars redolent of early Sonic Youth, then segue immediately into "Mercury," an initially straight-ahead number that lures you into a bewildering fog of a break. From there on, it's pretty much acid-time in the abandoned funhouse, as the ensnared listener gamely chases nebulous, songlike apparitions, only to run into mirrors or step in some unidentifiable gooey stuff. At one point in "W. Acre Lament," there's something suggestive of what you might hear if you could actually play the label side of a CD. During "Axis in Collapse/Ivy Bottles," you get everything from carnival organ and clanking metal to some weird squiggle that sounds disconcertingly like a CD player going south.
All the while, chaotic guitars and drums are tenuously holding things together. After toying with their captive prey for about half an hour, Rrope eventually let the listener find the way out through "Only Around," a scurry for the exit sounding a tad like early Pere Ubu.
Nice work guys; you've managed to create something both vaguely familiar and utterly foreign, not unlike that "thing" on the cover: what is that anyway, a moldy Tater Tot?
Rrope play Sun., Mar. 12, at Kilowatt in S.F. Call 861-2595 for more info. -Mike Rowell