Formed in 2011, experimental Nottingham duo Katharine Eira and Theresa Wrigley’s band Rattle are so named as they wanted something onomatopoeic. They have recently supported Animal Collective, and it’s interesting to muse on how they were received by fans of the whimsical band.
Rattle are singular: a bold exercise in how to explore and interrogate the uses of rhythm, using nothing more than their extraordinary percussion and vocals. Opening track DJ is epic: it builds and builds to a tower of sound, threatening at times to become almost like a sonic game of Jenga, and it’s over six minutes before the spectral dual vocals kick in, and the sounds start to weave out and in, tickling at cochleas. It’s mesmerising and disturbing, crashing cymbals evocative of ocean waves and mighty hurricanes.
Disco is more stripped back, ironically a meditative and slow track, with call and response harmonies which resonate and break apart, becoming fragmentary ululations. But endless snare sounds can test the listener’s patience somewhat.
Far better is The Rocks because it’s like an incantation, at once atavistic and steely modern. Drums don’t threaten to overwhelm the singing, but rather work in tandem. It’s bewitching and immersive.
Of course, it takes a few listens to reap the benefits. As with learning a new language, it takes a while to acclimatise to what Rattle are doing. They seem so far ahead of other artists that it’s almost jarring. It won’t trouble daytime radio any time soon, and nor should it. But once you stick with it, it all starts to make sense.
Signal is far and away the best track here, fusing post-punk vocals with hypnotic drumming, wherein Eira and Wrigley urge “uprising” and chant “go on and hit it… head on”. It’s almost like the making of a brand new democracy, or an autonomous region governed by those who propose resistance to patriarchal misrule. Peaceful anarchy through musical soundscapes and art. I’m in! Who’s joining me?