May 21, 2024

Dave Lombardo – ‘Rites of Percussion’ – “pulsing energy that brings the impacts in close”

Ipecac Recordings     5 May 2023

Drum albums are a rare treat and this is almost entirely drum (a little synth for wash effects), meaning everything has a visceral impact. It’s a foreground album, twisting, shaping, pushing and punching.

With a history including the entertaining Fantomas, Slayer and John Zorn, expectations could go anywhere from experimental to raw power. Lombardo goes for a mid-route, leaning to the latter; an exploratory rolling thunder, full of sound and incident but avoiding bluster. There’s always the risk of showing off when drummers finally get their moment but this is disciplined and Dave has created compositions around mental images he has, often building from improvisations, from the busy, to the gentle to the insistent to the spooky to the ominous and the thunderous.

Initially influenced by Latin rhythms as much as power rock like KISS, Lombardo has brought a melded palette to his bands. On Ipecac, the urge to stretch out is always present thanks to label head Mike Patton’s diverse interests and that brought the suggestion for a drum album. It’s been done before but not very often and it sat as an idea for twenty years or so till lockdown gave Lombardo the opportunity and impetus to work in his home studio. With two drum sets, a bass drum, a timpani, a grand piano, shakers, maracas, gongs, Native American drums, congas, timbales, bongos, batás, wood blocks, djembes, ibos, darbukas, octobans, cajóns, and cymbals, he had the scope to make a stack of sounds and beats. “When the pandemic hit, I thought, ‘Well, I can’t tour now,’” he says. “I immediately started working on the record. It was one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had. I had my studio, all my drums. Nothing was in storage for once! It was a very educational and gratifying experience.”

Nothing is over-long and the album is an old-school 35 minutes but packed with ideas. It makes me think of some of the side projects of Grateful Dead drummer, Mickey Hart, but solo, concise and spikier. A great test of your headphones or speakers, the natural, unprocessed sound is full of a pulsing energy that brings the impacts in close and massages your ears. Kinetic.


Ross McGibbon

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