Rusty, the solitary album by Kentucky math-rock/punks Rodan, was released in April 1994, sealing the band as an important influence in how alternative rock has evolved since. A quarter of a century later, this collection demos Hat Factory ‘93 - laid down in a studio of the same name in Baltimore - emerges. Four of Rusty’s six tracks are present, plus a song named ‘Exoskeleton’.
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What a shame Rodan broke up after ‘Rusty’. That album managed to balance the twinkling beauty of post-rock with the vicious bit of post-hardcore. And that was just on the first two tracks. Though the bands Rodan’s members would go onto form would give us a taste of what the future of Rodan may have been like, particularly in Rachel’s and June Of 44, neither have managed to scratch that particular itch.
All of which is to say, I was excited to hear ‘Hat Factory ‘93’, even though five of the tracks here would go on to be on ‘Rusty’. These demos were found squirreled away, and thought they do not offer us much new music, they do offer us some insight into how Rodan worked. The skeleton of these tracks is very much the same; ‘Bible Silver Corner’ remains one of the most beautiful songs ever written, the roaring acceleration between the different sections on ‘Jungle Jim’ remains just as thrilling.
The biggest difference is the increased presence of Tara Jane O'Neil’s vocals. She takes the lead on ‘Jungle Jim’ and does some harmonising on ‘Gauge’ that adds a bit of textural variety to those songs. The tracks are of course, a bit more ramshackle, a bit more intense, ‘Bible Silver Corner’ now features some bassy feedback that pleasingly dirties it.
The new song ‘Exoskeleton’ is much less restrained than anything else here. Yes Rodan had bite, but they rarely felt chaotic. And they pull it off. Because of course they did. Because they were Rodan.
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