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coverpic flag US - Texas - Full Moon 53 - 02/08/01

Rhythm of Black Lines
Set a Summery Table
Six Gun Lover

It is while within the thread of an on-line discussion regarding subliminal orders of content in things such as television newscasts (in which a top news story will reappear and echo its theme in the sports stories, such as triumph of the human spirit, or emergence of underdog as champion) to mix-tape contents (where-in one song must top the previous, as well as utilize the lyrics of disparate sources to convey secret messages i.e. 'crush' tape, or thoughtfully recognizable themes with regards to certain locus solus i.e. "Awesome Summer 2000" mix) that I come to this pondering of the Rhythm of Black Lines newest EP.

It is, on one hand, the story of survival, a "Survivor on the Austin Scene" perhaps. Not only is the group created from the remains of The Hades Kick, which was itself formed from the exes of Ex-Impetus, RoBL has recently had to deal with the sonic gap of departed guitarist Paul Newman (now making only rare recorded cameos). Part of their solution to such thinning is in the form of a delay pedal, coagulating guitarist Clint Newsom's finger-picked sound into a much more effervescently layered, harmelodic mass. This provides a leaner structuring to each selection here. Now no longer secure in merely hoisting up the outdated net of string and fret intersections (the old signs of 'math' or 'science' rock so inundated with Austin's music), the trio has focused more intently on song and structure, on the liquidity of their individual parts, on bending back saplings for a more efficient and seductive trap.

And how easy it is to fall into this new mesh of bass, guitar, and drums! From the opening cascades of notes on "Chucho Meets the White Lion" the listener is firmly in their snare (drum) and (guitar) hooks. Yet each individual part keeps shifting and moving, shimmering like razor grass in tropical winds, impossible to fully grasp, escaping again and again from slow hands and ears. Yet what is tangible is the ever-important (and idyllic) theme of the joy of the human spirit. Knowing full well the guys' love of The Band, and with said "joie de vivre" that the latter instill in all their music and playing, it is not surprising to feel that same sort of comfortable weave and bounce in every track here. Sometimes their music is with an almost Police-type bubbling or the slightest Howe-ian turn of phrase (as if a discussion of RoBL could go without a Yes reference). Or if King Sunny Ade himself spent some downtime with the shiny feel of Dave Pajo's "tweez" tone. Other times it is within the slightly off-kilter rhythms, as in Preferred Customer, where over loop upon loop of tiny sounds, the guitars take on a chiming, almost rotating music-box type texture that such a message is delivered. Even the rare vocals, which go from whispy and watery on the title track to the frolicking rah-rah-rahs of Jeep Jackson promise much in terms of earthly pleasures.

All in all, this newest EP is a delight, a opinion shared by the many who have come across the band live. On the road, RoBL has taken to generating new fans in front of fellow ex-El Paso mates At the Drive-In's audience, which is no mean feat itself. Their music is spreading. Whether by network TV, or spread by way of the whispers in the mix tape passed between friends, is that not the story of the underdog seizing the cup?

Six Gun Lover, 3203 Overcup Oak, Austin, TX 78704, USA.

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