Rabit - Life After Death

  • Opaque collages that refine an increasingly singular sound.
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  • Rabit's third album liberally samples Seeds Of Destiny. It's an Oscar-winning propaganda film that highlighted the plight of European refugees, particularly children, in the aftermath of World War II. It was meant to generate support for the United Nations' humanitarian work in Europe. But instead of projecting hope, Seeds Of Destiny carried a stark tone. "Rebirth through ruins," the narrator says. "Twisting whole countries into economic cripples, weakness that will last for decades." The film came with a dire warning: "Living in filth, millions more like them, from which will emerge new leaders. Will they be new Einsteins, Toscaninis—or new Hitlers and Mussolinis?" That line is the ominous ending of "Spiral," the second track on Life After Death, Rabit's darkest and most opaque record yet. On tracks like "Spiral"—a murky swamp of bass and dulled synth leads—he makes the collage-like method found on Les Fleurs Du Mal more stirring and concrete. Inspired by surrealism (particularly the filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky), Life After Death is a topsy-turvy world of twisted samples and unexpected turns. There's a sinister tint to much of the LP, especially on "Blue Death," the only track that references Rabit's grime-obsessed past. Here, the genre is transformed into something gloomy and elegiac, emphasising its clichés. The strings are icy, the gunshots real—not just the usual gun-cocking samples. That's complemented by the sounds of strife: screaming, yelling, commotion. It's a genuinely uncomfortable passage on an LP that often contrasts the familiar with the grotesque. Rabit delights in the queasy manipulation of samples and synths. The opener, "The Quickening," is a ghostly collage of cut-up chatter and strings bent so violently that they sound like air squealing as it escapes from a balloon. "V" and "6 Devil" prominently feature bells that fuse in a dissonant mass. Another striking track is "III," akin to a radio play without dialogue. Metal objects are jostled around. There's a phone call, dramatic strings, big drums fills and an opera singer. The push-and-pull between narrative and abstraction on "III" is a microcosm of the whole album. Like Seeds Of Destiny, Life After Death is an unsettling work with glimmers of positivity. There are two passages of simple beauty, such as "Daydream," where crystalline mallets trickle like a gentle creek. That track and a couple others evoke the serenity of Japanese ambient artists like Hiroshi Yoshimura, who Rabit cites as an influence. These tracks offer respite from the disturbing sounds elsewhere on the LP. On the closing track, "12," you can hear plaintive piano, children playing and what sounds like a film reel spinning. It should be meditative, but a faint synth gives it an uneasy edge. This ambiguity is the strongest aspect of Rabit's approach. "It starts out as chaos," he said of his process in a recent interview, "and I try to make sense of the different layers of chaos." Life After Death leaves you to do just the same.
  • Tracklist
      01. The Quickening 02. Spiral 03. III 04. All I Have 05. V 06. 6 Devil 07. Dream 08. Blue Death 09. IX (Regret) 10. eX 11. Daydream 12. 12