The music of the mind
Rats on Rafts has recently released Excerpts from Chapter 3: The Mind Runs A Net Of Rabbit Paths, an album that’s brimming with energy from start to finish. It’s difficult to categorize exactly what genre Rats on Rafts fits into, as any label feels too constricting to slap on such a dynamic group. Composed of Mathjis Burgler, David Fagan, Arnoud Verheul and Natasha van Waardenburg, Rats on Rafts is best described as an abstract post-punk Dutch band with an interest in the imagination. The record is crafted with artistry, leaving the listener to discern the inexplicable emotional highs and lows explored in the dynamic tracklist. Like the ebb and flow of a forceful river, Rats on Rafts confidently explores sentiments jubilant and turbulent without compromising on consistency.
This masterfully integrated leap from one polarizing emotion to another is best exemplified in “Excerpt Taken From Chapter 3.” The track starts with soft, swirling wind and a distant muffled singing adds a chill to the environment. Soft background vocals can be heard as the lead singer sighs, whispering “while the cold blue lights/ reflected upon her cold light skin/ I realized one bitter look could change everything/ and then I quietly heard her sigh” with an authoritative melancholy, supposedly referencing a somber scene. Gradually, the wind heard at the beginning grows stronger, seamlessly blending into the track “Where Is My Dream?” as a thrilling electric guitar starts playing. Both songs are staunchly different in style. Rats on Rafts not only successfully pairs the two tracks on the same album but essentially unifies them into one song. Beautifully executed, details like these are so poetic as they perfectly translate a vague concept into experiential feeling without losing any meaning in the process. Like the mental rabbit paths referred to in the album’s title, each beat connects and weaves various rabbit paths across the album, creating a holistic story experienced in sound. Though it is subtle, it seems as though the music itself mimics a net of rabbit paths.
Another compelling element of the record is how infectious it is—the technical expertise, masterfully implemented transitions, dynamic use of instruments, distinct influences and distinct individuality makes for an endlessly-playable album. “Tokyo Music Experience” is endlessly electrifying with an acrobatic guitar bouncing between animated chants, whereas “Second Born Child” opens to haunted chanting, radio transmissions and a creepy honky-tonk piano. A heavy drum dominates the song as the voices and instruments become more distorted and blend into one. “Prologue Rain” features an instrumental Japanese-inspired melody which fades into “A Trail Of Wind And Fire,” a song that would definitely be featured in an indie coming-of-age trailer. Though untraditional and difficult to execute well, Rats on Rafts truly creates a riveting psychedelic experience with their ability to blur the boundary of genre.
Though there are countless reasons why Excerpts from Chapter 3: The Mind Runs A Net Of Rabbit Paths is a stellar album, the most striking is the emotional range and depth Rats on Rafts managed to cover in a standard-length tracklist. Nothing on the album feels forced, allowing the record to act as a natural stream of consciousness rather than a formulaic rhythm. Rats on Rafts truly pushes the boundaries of what an album can be in Excerpts from Chapter 3: The Mind Runs A Net Of Rabbit Paths, perfectly translating the machinations of thought into feeling.