NOT NOT FUN RECORDS

GROUP RHODA - 12th House LP

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Mara Barenbaum’s solo vessel Group Rhoda emerged last year from an introspective incubational phase with one of 2012’s deftest debuts, Out of Time—Out of Touch, an alluring, sensory sound-garden of jittery drumbox beats, moody exotica, DIY dub-pop and elegantly aloof, shadow-theater vocal melodies. A series of sustained, long-form tours—both foreign and domestic—soon followed, during which time she began blueprinting the bones of 12th House, her sophomore statement. Recorded and produced in collaboration with Ben Versluis in San Francisco, the album’s eight songs snake through a similarly entrancing terrain as her past work, but this time the production is starker and spikier, with an almost post-punk clarity in places. From witchy island pop (“Day Ruiner,” “Dust”) and dizzy, micro-cosmic disco (“Coral Castle”) through paisley-flavored circus-psych (“Disappearing Ground”) to wobbly, haunted house dub-damage (“Space Race,” “Blk Mtl”), the record is rich with rarefied Rhoda rhinestones and reflections. Her vocals pirouette and perplex, detached yet discerning, casting strange dimensions into the music: “Finally you look away / You look a way / Do you see ghosts walking around? / It’s your town / It’s their town too.” A free-spirited and fascinating follow-up by one of California’s most intriguing young pioneers, 12th House features vivid feline-fantasy collage artwork by Mary Elizabeth Yarbrough.