Rhythm of Black Lines Human Hand, Animal Band

Rhythm of Black Lines’ fifth release, Human Hand, Animal Band, is a sprawling epic album that is difficult to pin down. The best moments sound similar to Blonde Redhead while other moments are closer to King Crimson and their ilk, but there is a healthy mix of other influences thrown in for good measure. Basically, it is all over the place in a strange kind of way. It is a difficult album to get into because it doesn’t offer the listener any concessions at all. Like their label-mates the Mars Volta, Rhythm of Black Lines try to pull their audience along on an expansive musical voyage whether they want to go or not. Sometimes the journey isn’t very interesting or it spends far too much time treading water without getting anywhere, but it is hard not to be impressed by the ambition and scope of their vision. Members of Rhythm of Black Lines and the Mars Volta have known each other since they were kids, so I suppose it shouldn’t be a big surprise that they have ended up sounding a little similar. Yet the former haven’t quite got the hang of restraint and moderation. The problem is that a little bit of Human Hand, Animal Band goes a long way — there are moments in most songs that are really compelling, but where does that leave the other four or five minutes? Fans of the Mars Volta will probably be a lot more sympathetic to this problem but everyone else won’t have the patience to persevere. (Gold Standard Laboratories)