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THE HERETIC'S BARGAIN - Rangda (Bishop, Chasny, Corsano) LP (Drag City)


THE HERETIC'S BARGAIN - Rangda (Bishop, Chasny, Corsano) LP (Drag City)


THE HERETIC'S BARGAIN - Rangda (Bishop, Chasny, Corsano) LP (Drag City)


A1: To Melt The Moon 6:12

A2: The Sin Eaters 2:53

A3: Spiro Agnew 2:59

A4: Hard Times Befall the Door-to-Door Glass Shard Salesman 7:55

B1: Mondays are Free at the Hermetic Museum 19:07

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Chaos and order are the poles that Rangda swings between, but order usually wins. On each of their three albums, the trio of guitarists Richard Bishop and Ben Chasny and drummer Chris Corsano have hewn to a basic pattern: several compact tunes combining riff-heavy instrumental rock with moments of abandon, plus one lengthier piece that ventures farther out. Their latest, The Heretic’s Bargain, begins laser-precise: "To Melt the Moon" is a gnarled coil of twisting guitar lines and shuffling rhythm, with Bishop threading needles and Chasny chasing him through rolling peaks and valleys. Two quicker tunes follow with more spot-on, tightrope-walking riffs, and you can hear them testing how short and sharp they can go without losing their chaos-around-the-corner edge. Much of that balance stems from Bishop’s guitar lines, which are equal parts surf-rock and Middle Eastern mysticism: Some of these tracks evoke Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet after a marathon Sublime Frequencies listening session.

The wheels loosen up toward the end of The Heretic’s Bargain, with two tracks that feel more improvised and impulsive. But these are not one-shot jams tossed off to fill an album’s length. The 19-minute closer "Mondays Are Free at the Hermetic Museum" is a thoughtful journey across a vast guitar-rock desert that’s as much about patience and deliberation as the rest of The Heretic’s Bargain is about speed and accuracy.

It’s interesting to compare "Mondays" to the long pieces on previous Rangda albums, "Plain of Jars" (from 2010’s False Flag) and "Silver Nile" (from 2013’s Formerly Extinct). There are big similarities: all three songs unfurl slowly and meditate on a melodic figure until it becomes its own universe. But the fleet and pointed riff at the center of "Mondays" would have easily fit onto one of the shorter tracks. As Bishop and Chasny lock together and push that riff into abstraction, they come close to fusing their two sides, precision and abandon. That makes The Heretic’s Bargain their most cohesive record to date, and suggests that it will likely be bested on that count by the next one.