Album review: Rhye – Blood

With an opening tone that could comfortably be likened to Sade (a point that has been noted before) comes “Waste”, the opening track of the album. Utilising his distinctive vocals, Michael Milosh effects a sighing, haunting contralto to draw us into a gorgeous soul track, and an opening to Rhye’s debut album, Blood.

This, however, is not a sign of things to come on this album. Whilst Rhye started as a collaborative effort between lead singer and songwriter Michael Milosh and renowned multi-instrumentalist, Robin Hannibal, Hannibal’s departure has since been confirmed, and the mysterious, internet-based group is now classified as a “musical collective”. After having promoted themselves with a sporadic release of tracks, posters written in the illegible wingdings font and various information that was almost impossible to tie back to them, Milosh confirmed the Cophenhagen-based Hannibal’s absence from the project.

With a few common themes tying them together, such as an over-reaching theme of soul-pop, and the distinctive, androgynous vocals from Milosh, it is clear there’s been a lot of cooks at this particular broth.

“Feel Your Weight” departs from the Sade-like soul-pop ballad into something altogether more electronic, bordering on minimalistic house as a back drop for a sensually sung melody over the top of it, whereas “Please”, on the other side of the ballad coin, bring us something far more melancholy, despite keeping the same house-style samples, overlaid instead with less bass, and more piano and string melodies to keep the tone intimate.

Songs such as “Taste” bring something altogether more reminiscent of 70’s funk to the mix. With a powerful and entrancing bass line keeping the experimental melody, loaded with everything from sighing, breathy vocals, airy flutes and other assorted woodwind influences and even the addition of a violin melody the song could easily be seen as self-indulgent and needlessly overcomplicated. “Taste” however, somehow sidesteps this giant musical landmine, and brings us something unique and memorable, even if it can’t be categorised by genre that easily.

This isn’t to say that every track is done so deftly. With such a range of influences, not every song was going to be a winner. “Count To Five” has moments linking BeeGee’s style disco-pop to Sigur Ros style atmospheric tones. I may love Sigur Ros, but I’m not exactly looking to hear their material played in a 70’s discohall.

With a bass line that suits the same era, reborn like its namesake, comes “Phoenix”. The track is minimalist, yet undeniably funky; a combination that I was sure I’d never manage to find. That said, I’m still inclined to state that just because something can exist, it doesn’t mean it should. The combination is jarring, alien and not altogether pleasant.

All of these points aside, I still found myself giving it multiple listens. It’s a solid reminder that music is very much still art, still a collaborative process at its heart and not something that needs to be clinically produced, sterilised and easily accessible to all.

“Blood Knows” however, ends up stumbling and has a similar pitfall to “Count To Five”. With a gorgeous, complex arpeggiated guitar melody complementing Milosh’s vocals, this reviewer fails to see the need for the addition of popcorn-like synth tones in the opening half. Thankfully, the song resumes the form it should’ve taken from the start around the midway marker, but the point remains, there are tracks on the album that could’ve done with fewer hands in their engineering.

“Softly” and “Sinful” work beautifully as a pair of tracks to end the album, leaving us with a sensual blend of guitars, ethereal tones, complex basslines and ghostly vocal melodies between them, and serving a memorable touchstone on which to end the album.

Rhye have done good work here, of that there’s no doubt. Each collaborator is clearly talented, and the production has been sympathetic to the original sound intended. The album however, is likely to be divisive across reviews and listeners. Being impossible to pin down an overall theme and tone to the album means it doesn’t fall neatly into a pigeonhole, but if you’re looking for something new, it demands attention. Why not pop by your local Richer Sounds to hear this album in one of our demo rooms today?





Author: Steve, Southgate store