Rat The Magnificent Live Up To Their Name On “Olon”
The aesthetic of "cool" has been around for over 500 years, and that is due in large part to its mutable ubiquity. Cool is timeless, but also cutting-edge. Cool cannot be quantified or defined; while Merriam-Webster surely has an entry for it, looking up "cool" in the dictionary is decidedly uncool. You just know it when you see it.
Or, in the case of South London’s Rat The Magnificent, you know it when you hear it.
Their full-length debut The Body As Pleasure is undeniably cool. It strikes a balance between carefully constructed melody and unhinged intensity, proving what Swans and the Jesus Lizard have been telling us all for decades: you don’t have to be metal to be heavy.
The standout track “Olon,” streaming exclusively above, features some of bassist Ross Davies’ best moments on the LP -- he lays down a thick, fuzzed out bottom end for a swirling guitar riff, and singer Perry Anderson captivates with a dexterous falsetto. Anderson recalls Jeff Buckley and Muse’s Matt Bellamy at times, but with an Eighties no-wave approach. The song builds off its initial minimalism, swelling with background vocals, drummer Anna Dodridge attacking the kit harder on each riff cycle, until its abrupt conclusion.
“Olon," like the rest of the album’s songs, stands apart in its composition and tone; while most bands claim to have “tons of influences," very few integrate a full spectrum of sounds into their work, and actually make them work. Rat The Magnificent have established a unique and compelling template for a rock band, and the possibilities are endless. Pretty cool.
We spoke to Rat The Magnificent about the track.
"Olon", like many of the album's tracks, has some distinct New York noise rock/no-wave vibes. Are there any specific bands from that scene that are an influence on your approach to songwriting?
It's hard to pinpoint exactly which influences directly inform the songwriting process. We try to leave all that baggage at the door when we start working on something. Your influences come to the surface naturally. Of course, we're heavily into those things, and what they were into. (RIP to Glenn Branca, spent so many wasted days with The Ascension). But we're a bastardisation of a lot of things. We're just as into Townes Van Zandt, Kyuss, Gamelan, Xennakis, Albert Ayler, Black Midi (Band and genre), noise, techno, hip-hop and pop.
The Body As Pleasure took three years to record. Was that intentional, or a matter of circumstance?
We did this totally DIY, working with our friend the excellent Brad Hemsell who engineered & mixed the record. We recorded it in whatever spaces we could get access to and/or afford. Some work initially was done in studio settings, but mostly it was lounges, bedrooms, rehearsal spaces and village halls. We wanted to pour as much of ourselves into the record as possible and to be as proud of it as we could, so that took time.
If anyone wants to give us twenty grand we'll get the next album out in two months!
We have an EP ready to follow The Body As Pleasure that we got to record with Steve Albini at Studio La Fabrique in Provence, France.
There's a streak of black humor, and even a little sardonic wit, that runs through the record. Is that a reflection of your personalities, or a byproduct of the genres you work within? Or both?
It's a reflection of our personalities. There's no genre-specific game plan, no cynical attempt at pastiche. We just try to be honest and sometimes you just gotta laugh