The ToB, presented by Field Notes, is here!

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Rhythm of Black Lines, Human Hand, Animal Band

From a world borne of one part heretofore-unimagined prog beauty and a little bit of Austin, Tex., comes the latest release from Rhythm of Black Lines. This isn’t prog that’s simply been Relay-ed, either; it’s a redefinition of progressive music that transports like truly nothing else can. The glory inherent in each track is unquestionable, the impression of each note is indelible. Eight-, nine-minute excursions pass by in the blink of the mind’s eye, every measure contained within so necessary, so moving to the inherent drama that’s at play.

Tense, inventive interplay between every instrument—soaring guitar, sure-footed, infectious bass, spot-filled, dynamic percussion—defies expectation and, at once, adequate description. That these elaborate works are so simple to easily recall, and indeed hum, is a testament to great songwriting—the songs’ complex nature merely a necessary aspect of how the message of each piece must be communicated. It’s not showboating, it’s plain and simple music, but with an anthemic flair the music demands.

One song, in particular, may be the best moment in music thus far this year: “One Red Eye.” Beginning with a cough to a count-off to a horn-and-synth churn interspersed with string flourishes, the imminent outcome is unpredictable. Carefully plucked electric-guitar arpeggios drive down, clasp hands with the dual plunging bassline and crunching drums, all working in concert to swirl us all further inward until the song at once begins, and the crystalline tenor vocals catch us all—band and audience alike—up with one another. An effortless break then breaks upon itself, and waves of instrumental magnificence crash over it all. The repeated minor-key buildups with the reintroduction of the strings breaks apart your heart; the music changes everything. The Rhythm of Black Lines builds upon itself, in perfect harmony, in utter splendor. And then we all go down, together, so happily, again.


Andrew Womack is a founding editor of The Morning News. He is always working on the next installment of the Albums of the Year series at TMN. More by Andrew Womack

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