Hey sludge fans and indie kids; here’s your meeting point: D. Rider’s Mother of Curses. Short for Deathrider and not, sadly, a Dungeons & Dragons reference, the trio of Andrea Faught, Noah Tabakin, and Todd Albert Rittman specialize in cacophonous slow jams. Existing somewhere among Cursive’s wounded whine, Teenage Jesus & The Jerks’ post-punk horn bleats, and any dirge-y band ever, D. Rider makes experimental noisy noise that somehow doubles as dance music.
The band’s most defining elements come from vocalist/guitarist/drummer Rittman, who drops some great, loose, sloppy beats, especially during the album’s first three tracks. And while Faught and Tabakin provide an enticing layer of keyboards ‘n’ horns to enshroud the songs in an appealing murkiness, Rittman’s surprisingly clear vocal takes that are what give the noise more meaning through contrast. Rittman’s third contribution, the guitar, feels album erroneous by comparison. His playing is either periphery or extremely noodley, though he does on occasion find a sweet, grungy spot on tracks like “Dew Claw Don’t Claw” and “Misery Whip.”
Mother of Curses is expansive and freeform, but it does occasionally slip into formlessness. “Body to Body (to Body)” starts out great, with ringing bells and howling horns, but it dissolves painfully by its end. The song is meant to fall apart, and it takes just a little too long to get there. “Welcome Out,” meanwhile doesn’t go anywhere at all.
Soggy middle aside, though, the record works well. Faught and Tabakin are the stellar back-up players, providing noise rock without the masturbatory shapelessness. It’s almost disappointing to hear D. Rider pursue more traditional, guitar-centric rock near the end. But then, “Misery Whip” pummels so hard and so well, that it doesn’t matter. Plus, after the long, droning white noise of “The Marksman,” it’s a welcome retread.
But that’s why Mother of Curses should be appealing to a decent cross section of underground music fans. While it’s got a slight “jack of all trades/master of none” bent to it, the album manages to embody a great swath of loud ideas, making it a good gateway record in a bunch of different directions.