Published Nov 14, 2014During its first minute, Kykeon's opening track "Siren in Byblos" seems to want to alienate the listener with its abrasive drone and distorted guitar riffs, which suddenly give way to an enticing drum line, to then morph into a harmonious blend of simple bass lines, a repeating drum pattern and experimental guitar compositions. But then again, that's pretty much par for the course with any Rhyton release; they've made a name for themselves by combining traditional Greek and Middle Eastern music with improvisational rock.
The name Kykeon literally means "to stir, to mix" in Greek and is a pretty accurate representation of the world the trio explore on their second full-length release for Thrill Jockey. While this new release finds Rhyton taking a more traditional approach to recording, it still maintains the band's signature live sound, with each of the members building upon what the other has created. David Shuford, of NNCK fame, intermittently plays the bouzouki (a Greek instrument resembling the mandolin) and the Turkish elektro-saz, as well as traditional guitar, deftly layering each instrument. Rob Smith of Bronx-based band Pigeons provides the drum backbone of the album, while Jimy SeiTang of Stygian Stride adds the bass lines and organ keys. The closest the trio come to a traditional song is on the punk-indebted "California Black Box Vapors," which frenetically marches one until a small free-jazz interlude leads to its alarm-clock finale.
There's literally no other band that could handle this heady material with such confidence and ease, and Rhyton sound like they love every second of it. With the promise of "extended ritualistic performances" on their upcoming tour, here's hoping they'll include Canada on their itinerary. (Thrill Jockey)