Rites and Rituals is a surprising album. ‘Sunrise’, its opener, is like a morning raga where sleepy-eyed and dazed drones hover just underneath some good-energy-guitar. Its positive mood is chained to the sunshine, which is in its infancy, with its golden, glowing and youthful light burning with blushed flames of amber and red. Rites and Rituals is the latest work from Dollboy, aka multi-instrumentalist Oliver Cherer, and it’s a trailblazer in a couple of ways.
Firstly, this album acts as the maiden flight for new label Modern Aviation, a UK-based cassette and digital label specialising in folk and electronic music, and secondly, the music’s steeped in the strong incense of ceremony, standing upright against the many formalities, rituals and practices of tapestries, churches and temples all over the world without ever feeling stuffy, strict or rigid. It’s actually the opposite of those things, as it has a playful and adventurous heart; modern concepts for old practices. A practice high on symbolism, discarded by much of society as being an unnecessary part of life, thought of by many as being old-fashioned and outdated, is once again riding high – fresh, modern and relevant while also sounding extremely old.
Rites and Rituals isn’t a place of small, cramped windows and dusty, stained-glass light. Its doors are open to the outdoors as it walks through a liturgy of ruins, with jagged boulders of old, sacred stone being the only reminder of what was once here. It passes through an empty country lane, stalked by a stark, gnarled family of bare branches, almost regressing into a primal sound while coming across as being extremely contemporary. It was around in the Middle Ages and it’ll be sweeping through the fields of tomorrow. There’s something timeless about it.
Clanks and rattles seem to pass through century-old air, the air carrying the music of old and new. Does music even age? Do recordings age?
Older times and forgotten periods are given new life when a record plays, and even in the silence the music of history still lingers, echoing its unseen vibrations all around; its atmosphere permeates the cobbled streets and guillotined twigs, the warm comfort of a traditional pub and the long hours of a Sunday afternoon.
Some of the music is weighted with undercurrents of menace and distress, be it in the low visibility of a fogged-out bridge a hundred or so metres away or in a black, flickering silhouette reflected in a pond. There are darker practices and rituals in existence, too, and the record doesn’t skirt past them. Through music, folk dancers clothed in pagan symbols are connected to the mainstream religions of the land, giving the music an air of unity and of celebration…whilst hiding a couple of Wicker-Man-secrets, too.