D. Rider: Mother of Curses

By: Ron Hart

As guitarist for the celebrated avant-rock collective U.S. Maple, Todd Rittman pledged to deconstruct our perceptions of what rock 'n' roll is by whittling the sound down to its most minimalist core. However, with his new project D. Rider (the 'D' stands for 'death' and presumably named after the classic Hawkwind deep album nugget "D-Rider” off their 1974 album, Hall of Mountain Grill, or perhaps a nod to someone's old Dungeons and Dragons role playing days), he issues a reprieve upon his previous conceptions of what rock should sound like by implementing the bastard groove of AOR boogie and deconstructing it in ways that haven't been utilized since the first ZZ Top album via the underbelly of experimental electronic music.

Though not entirely apologetic, Mother of Curses (Tiazona) comes off like a quasi-caveat for Rittman's prior Maple-related sins of taking such time-honored rock gems as Dion's "The Wanderer," AC/DC's "Sin City" and Bob Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay" and bathing them in a pool of battery acid without straying entirely from the cacophonous complexity of his primary band. In fact, if you follow the path that led Rittman from U.S. Maple to his other group, freeform soul slingers Singer, you can clearly identify the markings of D. Rider in the footprints, especially when listening to such tracks as "Dew Claw Don't Claw" and "The Marksman." Even if you aren't exactly a fan of U.S. Maple, there is something in the style by which Rittman records as D. Rider, the coaxing of leftfield, albeit tangible rhythms using nothing more than a small drum set, "strings," a vintage Oscillatrix oscillator (manipulated by Andrea Faught, who also plays the cornet here) and a mean sax (played by reedist Noah Tabakin), that appeals, warts and all.

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[Published on: 5/16/09]

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