Named for a mythological Balinese demon-goddess, Rangda is a trio of guitarist (Sir) Richard Bishop, formerly of The Sun City Girls; guitarist Ben Chesny, of Six Organs of Admittance, and drummer Chris Corsano, who divides his time between pop (Björk) and avant-garde jazz improvisation (the UK sax wizards Evan Parker and Paul Dunmall, among others). Corsano also contributed organ and clarinet. Their debut, False Flag, consists of six freely improvised pieces.
Flag is fairly evenly split between let-‘er-rip, caustic, free-jazz-meets-thrash metal onslaughts (“Waldorf Hysteria,” “Fist Family”) and pensive, spacey/spacious psychedelic jams with hints of blues and Middle Eastern sounds interlaced throughout (“Plain of Jars”). On the regal, unhurried “Sarcophagi,” the terse, sustained guitar tones evoke The Grateful Dead‘s epic magnum opus “Dark Star” circa late 1960s.
Depending upon one’s taste (or mood), the noisier aspects of False Flag can come across as cathartic or wearying (or both, maybe). The more melodious facets, however, are alluring, absorbing, and mesmerizing, a timeless treat for those enamoured of six-string oriented psychedelia, older or newer vintage. If you can appreciate (or live for) the severe contrast, False Flag is worth your salute and discretionary dollar. (Drag City)