Lots of motherfuckers look back at ’95 and ’96 and think of Gangsta’s Paradise, Jordan going back to the NBA, Seal kissing up roses, Mariah having sweet-sweet fantasies, the .com boom, Wonderwall, The Oklahoma bombing, the Macarena, and terrible fucking dance music (like, goddamn, that shit was really fucking bad). Most people won’t think of post-rock. You know, that Sigur Rós, Explosions in the Sky, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor shit? There it was, hidden in the corners and awaiting its turn. It has since splintered into hundreds of styles and influenced basically everything. But, back in the day, at its core were the Rachel’s.
Sure, the Rachel’s made shit in the late 80s. Ya, there’s lots of other albums to choose from. And ya, you’re totally right, their 2003 release Systems/Layers did encourage and influence dudes like Jóhann Jóhannsson and Max Richter. But I’m not reviewing those albums because I really like this one. So, fuck off.
Jason Noble (guitarist) met Christian Frederickson (viola) on a Baltimore trolley. A little while later, they started a band named after Nobel’s Toyota Corolla (named Rachel) and the group’s third member and piano player Rachel Grimes (also named Rachel). The music they made was completely against the zeitgeist. Years ago, I kept putting it on repeat even though I wasn’t crazy happy about it at first. Motherfucker gave me feely feels. Originally, this album was created for a theatrical dance production based upon that super awesome painter dude Egon Schiele. The music on this album is simple, elegant, and beautiful. It’s perfect music to read a book to on a rainy day. It’s melancholic, emotional, and inspiring at the same fucking time. And, major bonus, it sounds like it was made yesterday. It’s aged with the grace of wine, whisky, and Samuel L. bad-ass-motha-fucking Jackson.
The album is not edgy anymore. Like, at all. Way back when, fucks thought this album was pretentious uppity bluestocking bullshit all adorned with baubles, bells, and balloons. They feared it like the ’00s feared cellphones, the ’90s feared computers, and cavemen feared thunder. It’s comforting, simple, and easy to react to the strange and the new with anger, dismissal, and superiority. It makes us feel safe, warm, and in control. Why the fuck else would we do it? Looking back, it’s easy to feel superior to this kind of thinking, that is, until someone brings up Blockchain, living on mars, and self-driving cars. In the end, it’s all thunder to cavemen.
The Rachel’s broke up in 2012 after their founding member, Jason Noble, passed away following a three-year battle with synovial sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. Edward (drums, vibes and sampler) passed away in 2017. They left behind a fantastic and ageless discography. Shit is truly legit. You can check out what the rest of the members are up to by clicking on the links down below.
Christian Frederickson – viola and laptop
Rachel Grimes – piano and organ
Greg King – films, vibes and keyboards
Eve Miller – cello
Bob Weston – engineer, trumpet and bass
Dominic Johnson – viola