Rainbow Shark are the Manchester-Oxford pairing of Jack Levy and Bill Wright, who’s self-titled debut EP was released on 10 December. A self-titled record suggests two things; first, that this is the essential Rainbow Shark sound. Secondly though, and more importantly, it informs us that the band is still a young bud, yet to fully bloom. With just three tracks to sample, judgements must be made in context. It must be a prominent thought that no band or artist in history ever created their best work on their debut EP. Not to say that there aren’t promising moments on Rainbow Shark, because there are. But, as is inevitable, there are also some flaws.
Recorded at 80 Hertz Studio in Manchester, the production is immaculate. On ‘Behind The Shards’ layers are balanced, the vocals are distinctive and harmonies add necessary depth. Synths introduce veiled intent with sharp piano countering the deep electronic haze. However the sounds rarely collide and sit together a little too comfortably. Issues don’t arise suddenly either; it isn’t specifically the lack or addition of an element that is the problem as much as the ideological intensity of the arrangement. Each sound is vying for the same space and same emotion, there’s no conflict either in the music or vocal tone. It requires more emphasis of lower, guttural registers; it needs a rhythm; it needs groove.
‘Behind The Shards’ was their first single and stands as a great basis for comparison against their other work. It must be said that later in the EP, from the second half of ‘The Sundown Bears’ onwards, they address all of these issues. It has a deep groove which allows other nuances of their work to expand carrying the listener against the subordinate deep tones. The stagnant arrangement of the previous track is also punctured with a breakdown halfway through, creating energy instead of seeping it.
Where Rainbow Shark are at their best is, encouragingly, on the final track. It begins with abstract percussion manipulating the senses. Gradually, layers of synth are adorned, with melancholic piano, syncopated rhythm and conflicting changes of tone. They coagulate to a hypnotic crescendo with hints of arpeggio adding further texture. A wonderful insanity ensues plunging the listener into an underworld, consuming all around. The vocal disappears, leaving significant words unsaid, enveloping the resonant beauty as you fade into their dream.
Released on 10th December 2012