Release Date: Jan 24, 2012
Record label: Thrill Jockey
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Post-Rock
Rhyton derive their name from an ancient drinking vessel, usually in the shape of a horn, which originated in Persia and was appropriated by the Greeks. It is usually associated with some sort of ceremony such as a libation, in which liquid is poured onto the ground or altar as an offering to the gods. Thrill Jockey Records announce the release of Rhyton, the band’s, debut album thus: “Rhyton pours out a sonic libation unto the liberated world”.
Deriving its moniker from a wide-mouthed chalice used in ancient Greek ceremonies, the heavy astral psych trio Rhyton grew out of the sessions for guitarist David Shuford’s Arghiledes LP (Thrill Jockey, 2011), a personal exploration of contemporary Greek folk and “other” music. For their debut, in addition to Shuford’s baritone guitar, electric saz, and mandolin, the trio consists of drummer Spencer Herbst (Messages) and bassist Jimy SeiTang (Psychic Ills) on five group improvisations. Greek music — in the loosest sense — isn’t really the main thrust of Rhyton, nor is the group a contemporary answer to Aphrodite’s Child.
Pink Floyds' David Gilmour and F1 enthusiast Nick mason proved this month that instrumental music, even the sort put together by two pensioners on a canal boat, can still make it to the top of the Official Album Charts. Flogging a whimsical blues jam is somewhat easier however with an extolled back catalogue to dwarf any other, it's not so simple when you're a trio made up of members from already existing projects, who themselves, boarder obscurity. Rhyton - the name aptly sets the tone for the music to follow; derived from the Greek rhein "to flow" the Brooklyn-based outfit have opted for old school musicianship, basing most of their material on improvised, middle-eastern flavoured, classic rock-routed excursions.
Brooklyn's Rhyton came to be through what the band refers to as an "organic" series of conversations about music between friends and some common ground met over late-night drinks. It's easy to imagine the scene; three dudes with different bands in Brooklyn's neo-psyche/improv circle, hanging out a few cocktails deep and excitedly proposing "We should jam sometime!!" The trio of Dave Shuford (D. Charles Speer & the Helix, No-Neck Blues Band), Jimy SeiTang (Psychic Ills), and Spencer Herbst (Messages, Matta Llama) did indeed jam sometime, and then jammed several shows, and eventually these jams culminated in the megajam that is Rhyton's debut album.
No-Neck Blues Band or Psychic Ills have always seemed like rather hit or miss affaors. Their psychedelic and spectral improvisations have either crawled at a dull pace or alluringly hypnotised. It would be optimistic to place Rhyton - comprised of No Neck’s David Schuford, Ills’ Jimy Seitang and Messages’ Spencer Herbst - in the latter camp but alas, it wasn’t meant to be.