Perhaps the most powerful and elusive of abilities available to musicians today (and perhaps since popular music began) is the slippery task of walking the line between the abstract, untested and untried and keeping things accessible. Dead Rider are a band who walk the proverbial tightrope and whose Chills On Glass offers a sound which manages to stretch the rubber band without losing the vision to make music that appeals to many. The album – written, recorded and self-produced by the outfit (Todd Rittmann, Matthew Espy, Andrea Faught and Thymme Jones) – brings ballsy, guitar led rock, danceability, sonic experimentations and a storm of shredding electronics.
Compared to Dead Rider’s previous material, in which Todd Rittmann’s unique style of guitar shredding took centre stage, Chills On Glass takes a much more experimental, downright weird stance. Using a wider variety of instrumentation to weave together the tapestry of the album, the band have taken a leap of faith into unknown territory – full of warbling synthesizers, psychedelic skies, stitched samples, electronics and a back bone of more familiar, good ol’ rock n’ roll. However, as mentioned in the preamble, the outfit somewhat retain the art of appealing to a majority – an extremely difficult feat when creating stuff this wild.
Beginning the record “New Eyes” has a startling mirage of shades and nuances; at times bold, brash and exhilarating, whilst offering a sense of calm at others. The track opens with a concoction of rapid guitars, driving basslines and an assault of rough edged synths, and closes with a soothing piano and electronic progression in its final third. The rasping vocals of Rittmann offer the only consistency throughout (and to a greater extent, the whole album).
“Weaves” exhibits the band’s penchant for expertly constructed rock n’ roll – the track takes a break from blitzing electronics and replaces it with bass lines and pulsating drums, all the while offering Rittmann’s weird, freak out vocals. “Sex Grip Enemy” and “Of One Thousand” again offer a stark connection to the raucous guitar led sounds of the outfit’s previous material – with its spindled guitar sections, incinerating style and, in the case of “Of One Thousand”, throwback to glam rock (albeit with their own slant on the genre). “Four Cocks” exhibits instrumental warbles of electronics; blips, clicks and crackles inhabit its terrain, while “Cry Baby” offers one of the album’s most composed moments, creating a break from the storm of noise with its soft spoken vocals and pulsating synths.
When all’s said and done Chills On Glass is an exhilarating record with a variety of shades, but its biggest achievement is its ability to create such weird and wonderful sounds whilst maintaining the potential to appeal to more than a small minority.