It takes more than the average performer ego to put out a release like Rabbit Rabbit’s “Rabbit Rabbit Radio, Volume 1,” but the artful self-indulgence is worthwhile.
The act’s core duo of married couple Carla Kihlstedt and Matthias Bossi have each had ample experience in unconventional bands including Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Tin Hat Trio, Skeleton Key and 2 Foot Yard. They round out their lineup with their frequent collaborator, bassist/guitarist Jon Evans (Tori Amos, Ben Folds) as well as producer Joel Hamilton.
Kihlstedt and Bossi wrote the songs, together and separately, and they perform the vocals, together and separately. The arrangements are wildly diverse, running the gamut from prog-rock to chamber pop and with nods to everyone from Frank Zappa to Bjork. The energy swings from deathly still to punkish.
It’s also very disjointed, no doubt a side effect of the process in which the album came together: Rabbit Rabbit runs a rabbitrabbitradio.com website in which subscribers are treated to a new song each month, complete with DIY videos, photos and information that explains how each song found life.
“Rabbit Rabbit Radio, Volume 1” features the act’s songs from 2012, and they’re basically only connected to each other by their inventive spirit.
The highlights are the dark, quieter tracks – like the foreboding opener “The Curious One” pushed by a chunky beat and Kihlstedt’s dramatic violin plus a cult-chant-chorus. Elsewhere, Bossi’s something akin to a creepy crooner in a piano bar on the entrancing “Ballad for No One,” Kihlstedt’s wordless wails bring chill to the ominous “Hush, Hush,” and the melodic “Home Again” is built on a ghostly shuffle.
Rabbit Rabbit blows the roof off elsewhere, and the act slashes through shifting time signatures, crackles, drones and an anything-goes attitude that feels periodically self-important.
Still, it’s a fascinating trip down the rabbit hole.
Rating: 3.5 stars (out of five)
© 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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