- 29 May 20
R.S.A.G.'s first full-length in ten years is an intense powerhouse worth the wait.
Chroma is the kind of record that roots itself in your brain and doesn’t let you go until it’s finished its course. Each track uses captivating experimentation to create colourful scenes, moods that make you feel like you’re part of the song. Jeremy Hickey’s one-man show is hypnotic and unrelenting, traversing between quiet atmospheric sounds and incendiary rhythms.
At the centre of the record lies Hickey’s immaculate percussion. His reputation as one of Europe’s most impressive drummers is confirmed again and again with relentless beats. Percussion leads each track with precision and speed, the instrumentals merely serving as accessories to enhance them. They start out slower with the lulling, haunting opener ‘Morning Sun’ before transitioning three tracks in on ‘Jungle’ into an almost anxiety-inducing tour de force. Midway through the song there’s a slight dip where everything except the drums and his voice go silent, before exploding into one of the most impressive climaxes on the record. Hickey is almost yelling, the beat is pulsing, and layers upon layers are added until its twinkling conclusion that almost leaves you gasping for air.
‘The Jungle’ may be the most (delightfully) exhausting, but he continues the amped-up intensity with bangers ‘Meet You There’ and the ironically titled ‘Don’t Move So Fast’. On the first, he toys with electronic elements and a new-wave inspiration, at points almost sounding like the Talking Heads on speed. On the latter, he dives head first into the dark ferocity of post-punk with heavy bass akin to some of Joy Division’s best.
Chroma leans quite dark at times, like ‘Hollow’ where Hickey’s vocals are more haunting than ever and complimented by a downright unsettling whisper from an unknown voice. Squealing guitars and fuzzy bass take over much of the record, making use of violin and funky brass a welcome surprise. Though many of the tracks differ in tone, a conscious choice by Hickey who describes them as “mood pieces” that define his process of recording at home in Kilkenny, they feel incredibly cohesive. They exist both as standalone songs and one genius joint beast called Chroma.
Ten years is a long time to wait for a new album, but this record makes it all worth it.