Dusted Reviews

Rio En Medio - Bride of Dynamite

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Rio En Medio

Album: Bride of Dynamite

Label: Gnomonsong

Review date: May. 31, 2007

Whispery songs quoting Blake and Ashberry. Minimalist flourishes of guitar, ukulele and electro-percussion. Another fragile folksinger discovered by Devendra Banhart via Sierra Casady of Coco Rosie.

Sounds unbearable, doesn't it?

Well, surprise, surprise, this new CD from Danielle Stech Homsy, a.k.a. Rio En Medio, is actually quite lovely. More than that, it's intelligently lovely, its lullaby softness full of difficult imagery and multi-language lyricism. Let Coco Rosie sing about wanting to be your housewife. Homsy could just about be your comp. lit. professor.

Consider, for instance, "Europe a Prophecy,” all otherworldly whispers and spooky altered voices, intercut with faint samples and ominous distortion. Homsy's voice is soft, water-pure, completely free of vibrato, a sort of dreamlike guide through strange territories. There's not much melody to the song, just long tones in series, wrapped around the song's arresting lyrics: "The deep of winter came / What time the Secret Child / Descended through the orient gates of the Eternal Day / War ceas'd, and all the troops like shadows fled to their abodes."

You could, of course, take the verse as an anti-war salvo, but it's a bit more complicated than that. The words come from William Blake's poem of the same name, one of his wilder "prophetic" works, full of demons and queens and allegorical fancies. Homsy makes it work by landing lightly on the poetry, sustaining its mystery with reverb’d self-harmonies and uninflected purity of tone. It's the sort of song that could, quite easily, turn pretentious, but through careful restraint, remains supple and fresh.

Another highlight comes later in the album, with "The Baghdad Merchant's Son," whose trance-like melody rides a subtle beat. Here again, Homsy borrows her lyrics, this time from a 1920s travelogue, shading space-age rhythms with old-time observations like "It's no concern of ours / We being ladies." It is followed by the fascinating "Liberte," which incorporates what sounds like a rabble-rousing speech (possibly Haitian) into its undulating French-language melody.

Homsy sings, at all times, like a mother murmuring a lullaby, her tone impossibly sweet, soft and gentle. The music, too, is simple, built of minimalist collages of guitar picking, samples and percussion. What saves the whole enterprise from cloying, though, is the intelligence behind it. Rio En Medio is not just a pretty voice...not by a long shot.

By Jennifer Kelly

Read More

View all articles by Jennifer Kelly

Find out more about Gnomonsong

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.