When we last checked in with Rat Columns they had just released their debut 7″ single and were (mostly) a one man band. The band, now officially a three piece, have just unfurled their first long player Sceptre Hole. The band is now based in San Francisco, though guitarist/singer David West began Rat Columns in Perth, Australia. Geography seems to be irrelevant though, because Rat Columns do not not sound like they adhere to any scene or current musical trend in that city or any other.
Eastern Vibrations starts the record off on a four minute dissonant excursion making you wonder what you’re in for. Then they go all noise pop on you with Death Is Leaving Me and you start to get the idea that you are in for a roller coaster ride of a record. The way they mingle short instrumentals and sounds between songs reminds me of the Pale Saints album The Comforts of Madness, and the sound aesthetic employed is very similar to the noise/dream pop of the Pale Saints first record. Rat Coluns are a pop band, but not an obvious one. At the end of side one they deliver the instrumental Spectre in the Wall which is so high quality that it will have you reaching to hear Simple Minds‘ Themes from Great Cities. Then on side two they start to show some of their Clean and 18th Dye leanings that were so evident on that first single on the songs Ashes Of a Rose, Frozen Over and Summer Thighs.
Scepter Hole is not a record that is immediately obvious, but it is one that continues to reveal itself the more you listen to it. It jangles, it drones, it weirds out, it keeps you off balance, while pulling you into its world and not letting go. It might seem experimental and somewhat dense at first, but its many facets and pleasures reveal themselves the more you listen to it. Not a record that will ever be flavor of the month, but more like one that you pull out to listen to year after year.