Rhododendron – One

Rhododendron - One

Rhododendron – One

Since parking his Dollboy alias in 2014, Oliver Cherer has hit a potent purple patch; via his solo-trading pastoralism, within the multi-headed Silver Servants, inside the motorik diversions of The Wrestler, through the electro-primitivism of The Assistant and – most strikingly – with the far from flowery Rhododendron. Initially conceived as a free-wheeling live-centric operation, the project has inevitability and happily become a fully-fledged studio enterprise, with Cherer’s consummate craftsmanship enriching the band’s fertile frazzled soil. Now, following a choice 2015 10″ EP on Deep Distance arrives the outstanding One LP.

With Cherer joined by fellow vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Darren Morris, Owen Hills (guitar/harmonica), Andy Calvert (drums) and guest singer Zizi Kanaan (Eyes In the Heat), One spreads out as an engorging smorgasbord of kaleidoscopic Krautrock, fizzing analogue electronica, giddy garage-psych and pretty much anything else that you could envisage fitting in-between.

Very much an album that works mindfully within its two flanks of vinyl, the first side showcases the most expansive side of the Rhododendron world. Opening with the sublimely soaring “New Europe” the ensemble reach a cruising altitude straight from take-off, to forge a windswept epic that melds cosmic eastern vibes and Dingerbeat propulsion, as if it were a collaboration between Goat and Cavern Of Anti-Matter. In its wake, the darkly insistent “Monorail” welds distended harmonica lines to a stripped-down yet thuggishly thick glam-rock backbeat to mesmeric effect; the hypnotic Morris-voiced “Car Crash – Lights Off” steers late-‘70s Can off the Autobahn and into a ditch; and “Church Of T” chugs and prowls like a dream-like Silver Apples and Harmonia conjoining.

On the flipside things become far more unglued – but in a good way. Hence, the gloriously deranged “Little Rocks” finds Cherer at the mic for a turbo-charged synth-driven space-rock nugget with an untypical political observation on a gruelling real-life-inspired Sisyphus-like existence; the deliciously delirious Kanaan-led “Brute Blaster” imagines Laurie Anderson locked in a studio with Suicide’s Martin Rev; the entertainingly barmy “Foreign Language” sounds like Cherer channelling his inner-Mark E. Smith to have a drunken brawl in a Berlin disco with Metamono; and the closing “Paris Rendezvous (Slight Return)” could be early-Gallon Drunk stomping on a pristine Neu! record.

Perhaps the only downside of One is that only 300 very lucky vinyl-buyers will be able to own and hear a copy. As quite simply, a record this damn good needs to be heard more widely. Here’s hoping that Rhododendron’s Two, Three and more aren’t far behind…

Deep Distance