Rites Wild: Ways of Being – album review

Rites Wild – Ways of Being (Not Not Fun)
Available now

Layers of lo-fi electronic lovliness with a hint of Peaking Lights by way of New Romantic ’80s pop.

I was a little unsure what to make of this album at first, but you know, it’s grown on me.

I’ve heard quite a few instrumental albums this year , (I say ‘instrumental’, this one has some voices but not what I’d called singing per se – any vocals are way down in the mix and create a wonderful sense of intrigue), and have been pretty impressed. This album is no exception.

An artist I knew nothing about Rites Wild is the brainchild of Australian Stacey Wilson, Ways Of Being the debut long player after a string of self-released EPs. It’s a relaxing almost meditative affair, very calming, stress free, and, well, quite lovely.

So, what do we have here? Plenty of minimal lo-fi synth sounds for a start, drum machines lurking in the darkness and some nice reverb and dub effects. In a lot of ways, not unlike Peaking Lights – that as far as I’m concerned, is a huge compliment.

It’s been said that the songs sound as though they are being ‘beamed in from beyond the black rainbow’, and I’ll go along with that. A partially doomy, transcendental, primitive sound that flirts with you and entices you in.

The album strongpoint is actually its simplicity. There are clear ’80s electronic influences here – the looped drumsound of the opening, title track tips its hat in the general direction of early A Flock Of Seagulls. It has a simple hook, basic to the point of almost nothingness, atmospheric (a word I want to use a lot), indistinguishable voice ‘sounds’. If the aim to have the vocals almost decipherable, but not quite, is intentional, then the mix is genius. Imagine lying in a hot, placid, bubble-bath surrounding by steam and candles and this is the perfect soundtrack.

As a teenager of the New Romantic era, I’m also spotting a little Ultravox (Vienna) on Ill Health, and, possibly even some Visage? Remember Enigma and their chanting? Well, there are hints of that here too. Sublime Gregorian, chant sounding, angelesque mutterings, in the dark distance.

On the face of it, it’s basic stuff, but it’s layered so beautifully. Rites Wild Theme and Thieves are a joy in their simple melodies and echoes. Minimal Where has some exquisite dubs.

Where there is any percussion of note, its eeriness is addictive. Detached Living fades in and contains a ghost-like marching drum sound. Signs has some notable effects and more ‘chanting’.

The thing with this album is that if you like one of the tracks, you’ll like all of them – that’s because, in a nice way, they all sound the same. Not boring, quite the opposite, they’re interesting and relaxing. If I had one criticism, I’d like to see the tracks merged into longer compositions. I’d even go as far as encouraging a prog style album featuring all the tracks as one, for the vinyl purist, two.

In summary, a bit of a gem actually. A grower, and one that will warrant several more listens in quick succession. Keep an eye on Rites Wild, I have a feeling this isn’t the last we’ve heard of Stacey Wilson.

All words by Paul Scott-Bates. You can read more from Paul on LTW here.

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Born and bred in Lancashire, currently residing in the Rossendale Valley. Everything deserves one listen, but, not necessarily a second. Only (ex-Community) DJ to ever play Nat ‘King’Cole followed by Nine Inch Nails, and, eat Fish and Chips live on air. http://www.hiapop.com


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