Rhyton: Kykeon

Music Reviews
Rhyton: Kykeon

Making music without the heft of a vocal melody puts the spotlight squarely on the instruments, and some musicians take this as a cue to show how nimble their fingers are, or how odd their timings can be. Simply put—instrumental music can be overwrought. It can be boring. But it can be great, too.

The members of Rhyton are great players, but there’s a looser approach in how they explore the music. The trio’s third album, Kykeon, has a warm, lived-in feel, and it feels as if you’re traveling down these sonic rabbit holes along with the band. Interestingly, the five compositions here are not improvised like the band’s previous work. But they sure sound like it.

The nucleus of Rhyton’s sound comes from D. Charles Speer’s roots in Greek music, and instruments like the bouzouki, a stringed instrument that sounds a little like a mandolin. On Kykeon they continue to explore space while striking a perfect balance of dysfunctional, psychedelic noise and rock-solid melody and structure. “Topkapi” might be the most straightforward of the set, tapping into Middle Eastern rhythms. Songs like “Gneiss” and the incredible “Pannychis” introduce slightly funky rhythms, with the latter building and collapsing under a sheet of noise. The production gives the instruments plenty of room to breathe. All are present, but they work together for the song instead of for themselves.

Kykeon is a tripped-out and sometimes intense experience—able to pull even the most rigid listener into the incense-perfumed darkness. This isn’t background music, either. Prepare to unbuckle your seatbelt and enjoy the ride.

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