Group Rhoda, the solo project of Mara Barenbaum, returns to Dark Entries with Passing Shades. An integral member of the Oakland electronic music scene, Barenbaum has been writing, performing, and plunging into oneiric depths as Group Rhoda since 2009. This is the project’s fourth LP, and the third time Barenbaum has collaborated with Dark Entries; previously on the Max & Mara LP Less Ness in 2013 and the Group Rhoda LP Wilderless in 2017. Passing Shades is an investigation of the metaphysics of loss and the transitory nature of the material world. But it is not a grim collection; over 8 songs, Group Rhoda diverges through synthesizer-laden symphonics, four-to-the-floor inflections, and cosmic musings. Barenbaum’s striking voice and singular songcraft guide us through this labyrinth. Arpeggiated waltz “Flow” channels wisdom sought through martial arts; “Earthly Ark” sets a Margaret Atwood poem from the God Gardener’s Hymn Book to somber electronics. The vocoded canticle “Nevermore” is dedicated to the memory of a beloved cat. ‘Passing Shades’ is both mystifying and revelatory. Folk forms are echoed only to detour into the alien. Each song functions as both a fragment of a larger puzzle and a koan unto itself. Passing Shades was mastered by George Horn at Fantasy Studios. The sleeve was designed by Eloise Leigh, and features a hazy, clouded sky. The back cover uses a photograph by Harry Crofton. A postcard featuring a poem by Barenbaum is included, as well as a digital download. (STREET DATE - 11/20/2020)
Group Rhoda is the solo electronic music project of Mara Barenbaum, based out of Oakland, California. The project started around 2009 with a debut album ‘Out of Time, Out of Touch’ in 2012 on Night School Records and ‘12th House’ in 2013 on Not Not Fun. She is also one half of Max and Mara who released the album ‘Less Ness’ in 2013 on Dark Entries Records. She is committed to live performance, situated within the analog synthesizer and drum machine medium. ‘Wilderless’ is Group Rhoda’s third full length and first for Dark Entries Records. Each of the these 7 songs draw forth tones of tropical darkwave and soft industrial; while negating the sound of conformity and control. The album explore themes of societal and spiritual displacement, contemporary serfdom, the depths of empathy, regeneration through destruction, and the tyranny of claiming recognition and power. Lyrics are poetically expressed through allegory and explore archetypes rooted more in abstract observation rather than hard line experience. Through transgression and imagination, Group Rhoda explores the arc of songwriting interwoven into stark electronic environments; and creates a bridge between the corporeal and the dream worlds. Each song was mixed by Mark Pistel at Room 5 in San Francisco and mastered by George Horn at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley. Each LP is packaged in a jacket featuring a colorful custom made collage by Hugo Barros and includes a full color sticker and digital download card.
Not Not Fun
Mara Barenbaum's solo vessel Group Rhoda emerged last year with one of 2012's deftest debuts, Out Of Time - Out Of Touch, an alluring sound-garden of jittery drumbox, moody exotica, bedroom dub, and aloof shadow theater melodies. Tours both foreign and domestic soon followed, during which she began blueprinting 12th House, her sophomore collection. Recorded and produced in collaboration with Ben Versluis in San Francisco, the album's eight songs snake through similarly entrancing terrain as her past work but the production is starker and spikier, almost post-punk in its clarity. From witchy island pop ("Day Ruiner," "Dust") and dizzy, micro-cosmic disco ("Coral Castle") to paisley circus-psych ("Disappearing Ground") and wobbly, haunted house dub ("Space Race," "Blk Mtl"), the record is rich with rhinestones and reflections, her vocals detached but discerning, casting strange dimensions into the music: "Finally you look away / you look a way / do you see ghosts walking around? / it's your town / it's their town too." A free-spirited and fascinating follow-up by one of California's most intriguing young pioneers. Mastered by Ruud Lekx. Artwork by Mary Elizabeth Yarbrough.
Out Of Time - Out Of Touch
***NOW AVAILABLE ON VINYL!!! GROUP RHODA is a solo project based in San Francisco. The fruits of a five year journey into self-discipline and personal discovery, MARA BARENBAUM’s Group Rhoda uses stark musical practices and analog electronics to evoke imagery and rhythms both atavistic and futuristic. Using the tools of musical simplification—synthesizers, analog effects and drum machines—Group Rhoda's aim is to build a pop music that reaches freedom through discipline. All instrumentation, whether in the studio or on stage, is played live and with no sampling; a completely organic language formed from the roots of synthesis. Out Of Time, Out of Touch is Group Rhoda's debut recording. It is the culmination of a process which began with a self-taught keyboard technique and a desire to learn about the machinations of the tools of pop music and, in turn, the environment in which it is produced. While many of GR's choices are implicitly political—from a strict methodology to a strong commitment to DIY ethics and community—the outcome is also easily approachable as sublime pop music in the best sense. With a grounding in minimal wave and the post-industrial landscape, GR takes surprising detours into tropical rhythm patterns, dubbed-out bass throbs, hypnotic Wurlitzer flourishes and, above all, GR's distinctive, plaintive vocal. The alluring contradiction at the heart of Out Of Time, Out Of Touch is the push of the psychedelic, the hyper-real, the overtly physical and the pull of the artificial, the synthesized, the stark. This contradiction is brought to light continually...