Loke Rahbek is going to make you want to upgrade your speakers. Again.
The versatile Danish artist — who has recorded under the stage names Damien Dubrovnik, Croatian Amor and a host of others — has dropped a new disc under his own name. Recorded for the excellent Editions Mego label, City of Women is a major work.
The album's nine tracks are defiantly severe; the disc reads like a 34-minute endurance test. It's not without its comforting moments, but they're all quickly interrupted. Its beauty (and it is dramatically beautiful) lies in its uncompromising authority.
Lead track "Like a Still Pool" conjures images of Nikola Tesla, hard at work in a decrepit, early 20th century laboratory, but it's followed by the kinder, gentler "Fermented," with its mournful piano solo. It's no ambient piece though; harshly edited and overlaid with various elements of noise, the piece makes clear we're in for a complex listen.
Rahbek could be more fairly described as an artist than a musician. The latter term oversimplifies work like this. It minimizes the accomplishment, and this is a genuine artistic statement.
Rahbek once made news for trading individually produced cassette copies of his album The Wild Palms for nude self-portraits. Fans who sent one (complete with the tape's title written on a visible part of their body), were promised their pic would never be shared as long as they didn't share Rahbek's album. This new recording may lack a backstory that colourful, but it's no less worthy of the very best speakers money can buy. (Editions Mego)