Jul 16, 2012 Web Exclusive
Beneath the evocative tide of the rolling synth waves with which Rispah unfolds, we're briefly allowed to overhear the sound of African chanting—its tribal drumming begging questions of heritage and inheritance. Aptly, this introduction ("A Particle of Love") is interrupted by the dirty groove of "Generational," all interlocking rhythms and slowly unraveling guitar parts. It's soon apparent that Rispah is all about ancestry, the familial and the regrettably familiar.
A bit of context, then: singer and guitarist Dave Okumu's mother (Rispah) passed away during the conception of this, their second album. So it's unsurprising that the record should draw on that experience—from its weighty melancholy through to its very nomenclature, Rispah never loses sight of a sense of loss. "This is serious/So messed up," come Okumu's first lines—immediately he hits upon the balance between inconsolable grief and anger at life's inequitable twists that define this record.
While it is as despondent musically as it is conceptually, Rispah's combination of urban nighttime rhythms with claustrophobic guitar and synth lines is its masterstroke. Take "Protection," the album's sprawling eight-minute finale—as the track hurtles towards its mid-song climax, drummer Leo Taylor's assault grows with intensity, dueling forcefully with Okumu's punctuating guitar line and bassist Tom Herbert's driving momentum. On the other hand, there's some hope in the abstraction of "What Happened," a beat-less reflection, and a moment of lucidity amongst all this overwhelming grief. "I'm not afraid anymore," vents an exhausted Okumu, before we hear an amnesic recollection of that spiritual chanting with which the record began.
The Invisible's sophomore album is dark, haunting and musically adventurous—Okumu's torment is expressed through the length and breadth of this record. As such, Rispah strikes as a truly unique entry in the band's catalogue: rarely is such close-quarters confession expressed in such musically fitting, yet simultaneously innovative terms. (www.myspace.com/theinvisiblethree)
Author rating: 8/10
Average reader rating: 9/10