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- 4 Corners
MP3 Album 2013 | Silber 148 (available on vinyl through Nilla Cat)
10 tracks, 40 minutes
: Press Release
: Digital Booklet
Robin with a Cheeto
Prince Charles in a Can
Hebrew, I Hate You
Wax Wing Cedar
Mocking Bird in Gazza
Windy as Fuck
Windy as Fuck
This latest release by Portland’s Rllrbll–down from 5 to 4 to 3 members now, and who needs vowels?–is not only a gas to listen to, it’s a great representation of the band’s wide-ranging capabilities. They are musical weirdos for sure and aren’t afraid to try any style they want, or mix a track in a crazy way. The thing is, there are solid instrumental chops supporting the weirdness; that makes it easy (for me anyway) to follow wherever the band leads. Mae is a talented keyboardist, and the rhythm section (Monte on bass, Gilles on drums) is tight and creative. I don’t mean to give the other members short shrift, but for me Mae’s vocals are probably the biggest thing that make this band sound like this band. Put a vocal track on and boom, hey it’s Rllrbll. There are too many highlights on this record to name them all, but here are a few parts I like: #4 is a cooker with a really catchy chorus, the AfroSambaBeat of #6 was made for the dance floor, and #7 is an unmelodic, semi-industrial rhythm ‘n’ noise thing that jumps out of the speakers. #8 brings in some moody accordion. #9 would remind me of Joy Division if JD had been big on squinky keyboards and fuzzboxes. The record ends with a trip-hoppy noir-ish kind of thing. Tracks are all in the 3 to 5 minute range, so you never have to wait long to get to the next chapter. This band rules.
~ Max Level, KFJC
‘4 Corners’ is steady as she goes. Rllrbll uses the steady rhythm to counterbalance the otherwise unbalanced nature of the album. At any moment the songs threaten to descend into pure chaos. It is thanks to Rllrbll’s incredible skill that they do not. Opting to flirt around a complete and total breakdown they are highly enjoyable pieces of work. Noise gets much needed attention during the album providing some of the best moments. Similar to Electrane’s work with a completely perfect marriage of rock and electronics, it creates sense of unease with and without vocals.
‘Robin with a cheeto’ sounds like a carousel theme gone very wrong. To mix things up the song breaks down into outright noise before straightening itself up into perfect melody once more. Rllrbll appears to be knocking the song down only to pick them back up as soon as it is bored. ‘Meximelt’ goes for a more casual approach. Vocals are straightforward. Synthesizers add to the overall lounge mood. A muscular approach defines ‘Cyclops’ which is the most physical song on the entire album. The repetition adds to the overall enjoyment.
By the end of the album the rock influences make their presence felt. ‘Mockingbird in Gazza’ takes a straightforward, slightly skeletal approach before erupting into complete madness. ‘Windy as fuck’ ends the album off on a relatively jazzy note, with a nice smoky atmosphere. Rllrbll takes its many influences and effortlessly merges them into a coherent compelling album.
~ Beach Sloth
It is very Varied and not all tracks consistently Rock, but like a lot of the Noise Bands I feature just Grab as much as you can and SAVE the Bits You Like !!
I’ve been waiting for a long time for the new Rollerball (or Rllbll as they are known now, after too many confusions with the stoner band with that name) album. This group from Portland is a personal favorite of mine. They create a nice blend of genres from free jazz to psychedelia to pop to lo-fi, and they have a very unique style of their own, the Rllbll style. With so many releases they had so far, it’s so great to listen to the new album and find that they still inspire me to search for the freedom and music. They know no boundaries and everything goes. Also don’t miss their twin band Moodring. Lots of fun.
~ Yair Yona, Small Town Romance
Rllrbll is a Portland group making self-described trip-hoppy, post-jazz music. The album starts off with a great track called “McKaw,” which sounds fit for an adventurous video game. Nothing cheeses me more, though, than cringe-worthy organ grinding, and almost GarageBand-like passages found on—“Robin With A Cheeto” (“Windy as Fuck” is also cringe worthy). Because of the risks taken throughout, there isn’t much cohesion to these 10 tracks, though “Hebrew, I Hate You,” a minimal, gothic, dub-styled tune, is where the approach pays off. If you’re up for a weird listen, here’s one for you.
~ Christian Schultz, Slug Mag
US threesome RLLRBLL, also know as Rollerball, have been and ongoing concern for 20 years by now. Just how many albums they have to their name I don’t really know though, but as they list seven different record label associations I presume there’s a few, although how many of them that are conventional, commercially available productions is hard to tell without actually knowing. “4 Corners” is an album that dates back to 2013, and was released through Silber Records.
My initial feeling about this album is that it might as well have been named 10 corners, as the music explored on these 10 songs are so wide in variation that you don’t really get a coherent album feel about this production. These are 10 musical journeys without too many elements in common, where the main common denominator is that there isn’t one.
Opening instrumental McKaw is a kind of playful, psychedelic flavored jazzy affair with whimsical effects, drones and sounds, while the breathtaking second track Iggy is driven by a firm and compelling bass and drums foundation with a frail light toned exotic instrument motif as the main contrast alongside cool but emotional female lead vocals. Third track Robin with a Cheeto sports bass, drums and organs in more of a 60′s indie or garage rock oriented assembly, while Prince Charles in a Can comes across as a song inspired by house or techno, using what I associate with typical support elements from these types of music as lead motifs set upon a frail rhythms backbone with a vocal presence of the less emotional kind on top. Hebrew, I Hate You is more of a rhythm oriented exercise sporting tribal tendencies and a certain hypnotic quality, while Meximelt comes across as a pumped up bossanova with playful instrument and vocal details on top. For Cyclops booming rhythms of the kind that gives me instant associations to Killing Joke dominate, sporting spoken vocals and various electronic textures and a circulating shift in intensity and distortion, while Wax Wing Cedar plays around with jazzy sax and bass details and folk music tinged drones. The brilliant Mockingbird in Gazza revolves around a hauntingly familiar sounding bass motif with vocals and dark, staccato guitar riff like effects occasionally applied, while the concluding piece Windy as Fuck plays around with jazz-tinged bass and lead vocals, steady drums and a radio noise inspired electronic texture.
This brief impressions of each of the songs, while rather superficial, hopefully says something about the sheer variety at hand here. The cool thing about it is that the band appears as a secure unit no matter what territory they choose to explore, and even while the album as a whole may not be all that coherent in terms of style, mood and atmosphere there is a sense of identity somehow, although I haven’t been able to pinpoint just what creates it.
“4 Corners” comes across as a fairly adventurous ride into unexpected musical waters, the plural use of the word very much intended in this case. I guess that a plausible key audience for this album would be people who subscribe to the notion of being open minded music fans with a wide taste in music, and especially those who have a certain affection for indie and alternative pop and rock at that.
~ Olav Martin Bjørnsen, House of Prog
Instancabili ricercatori musicali i Rollerball, nonostante abbiano preso per strada il sassofonista non si danno per vinti e proseguono sulla strada della sperimentazione e dell’innovazione musicale. Rimasti in tre: Monte, Gilles e Mae Starr, ma aiutati da Spit Stix, l’italiano Jacopo Andreini ed Andy Brown, i Rollerball con “4 corners” se per certi versi evocano i primi Pere Ubu, dall’altro lato diventano imprendibili e come sempre è impossibile etichettarli.
Per necessità di critica mi azzardo a definire il loro sound come art-rock, nel quale è possibile inserirci di tutto. Ma d’altronde il trio di Portland non lesina in ritmi, riferimenti musicali, generi, ecc. Il disco, si apre con l’industrial scarnificato e post-punk di “Cyclopes”, prosegue con un’altra bella dose di post-punk, “Hebrew, i hate you”, la cui ritmica sembra ispirata direttamente dagli ultimi The Ex e si giunge all’intrigante “Meximelt”, intrisa di ritmi latini che nel corso del brano viaggiano verso un’elettronica space miscelata con l’easy-pop. Se “Mockingbird in Gaza” è strutturata su una progressione nella quale però si alternano momenti down ad altri esplosivi, “Robin with a cheeto” è volutamente confusa, sperimentale con una strana miscela di jazz e punk. Insomma come sempre i Rollerball non danno certezze, ma stimolano curiosità e non si cullano sul già sentito. Per fortuna!!!
~ Freak Out
Tornano dopo alcuni anni di pausa i Rollerball, da Portland, Oregon. Continuano a farlo per la sempre attenta Wallace Records di Mirko Spino, che li aveva già ospitati per un quartetto di lavori che andavano a rimpinguare una discografia corposa e fieramente “non riconciliata” (la loro è una carriera quasi ventennale). Hanno pure pubblicato per etichette prestigiose come la Road Cone (Loren Mazzacane Connors e Jackie-O Motherfucker nel suo prestigioso catalogo).
Questo 4 Corners nasce da un organico rinnovato (sono rimasti in tre), registra la presenza di ospiti importanti come il girovago Jacopo Andreini (dietro la Burp Enterprise e i Nando Meet Corrosion) e come Andy Brown (Jessamine e Fontanelle), e dimostra di saper ancora esprimere tutte le caratteristiche peculiari della band, che rimangono approccio free su strutture quasi pop, condito da fragranze ora in odore di jazz ora di folk, ma rivisto da un’ottica sempre poco avvezza alle regole (anarchia e approccio DIY sono chiaramente di casa), lo dimostra il finale proto-noise di “Robin With A Cheeto”. “Iggy” è foga “politica” con melodia schiacciasassi e voce di Mae Starr in fieri, “Meximelt” ha un tiro nervoso da trasfigurato ethio-jazz, ma senza scimmiottare Mulatu Astatke (anche i fiati di “Wax Wing Cedar” vanno decisi verso quella direzione), visto che si muove tra percussioni febbrili e una chitarra cadenzata rasente atmosfere notturne. “Cyclops”, invece, è combat rock all’arma bianca, a dire il vero un pelo ottuso ma tutto sommato efficace, e fa il paio con la tirata chitarristica di “Mockingbird In Gazza”. Chiude la cangiante posa oriental-free di “Windy As Fuck”, con la voce più eterea del solito della Starr e vibrafoni e note esotiche di synth e batteria.
In generale è un disco che (pur se diviso in due lati) è dotato di un evidente filo conduttore stilistico, che sa di libera espressività come pochi di questi tempi, agendo in modo nevrotico in particolare nelle ritmiche. Pur non essendo lavoro imprescindibile, ha comunque molte frecce al suo arco. Dategli fiducia, anche perché garantisce una label fondamentale per l’underground di casa nostra.
~ Maurizio Inchingoli, The New Noise
Brillantissimi. Questo è il superlativo che viene subito in mente ascoltando i dieci brani di “4 Corners” degli statunitensi Rollerball – oramai una garanzia di qualità sonora, dopo 17 (!) “album” – che sintetizzano all’ennesima potenza quaranta anni di “progressive”, “kraut” e “post” rock (a partire dall’iniziale McKaw, allietata da fiati starnazzanti, tra cui il riconoscibile Jacopo Andreini).
Straordinaria la sezione ritmica – Monte Trent Allen al basso e Gilles alla batteria – della “band” di Portland, che incalza senza posa (cfr. Prince Charles In A Can) la voce tonante e “in opposition” di Mae Starr (cfr. Robin With A Cheeto), conferendo spiazzanti ma centrati accenni “new-vave” (cfr. Mockingbird in Gazza, ovvero Peter Hook che incontra il funk a Canterbury) e “trip-hop” (cfr. Windy As Fuck).
Nel corso del loro vagabondare i tre dell’Oregon incontrano anche l’Oriente un poco posticcio degli “hippy” (cfr. Iggy)
~ Marco Fiori, Kathodik