Although many PR people, fancy agencys and media consultants always try to create one – there is no unique formular on how to make something successful and how to create digital buzz. Still a lot of professionals are hired, money is invested to make trends became more or less predictable. Basicly a ridiculous and somehow desperate method if you ask other hyped newcomers like THE XX or JAMES BLAKE who had no intentions or marketing strategy, just their music. And chances are good that mysterious duo RHYE and their debut longplayer Woman are the big new thing of 2013. The whole business is talking about this band and their first two published tracks The Fall and Open caught everyones attention with their tender sensuality and the fragile emotional character. The longplayer is just the next step in this progress for – now not longer anonymous musicians – Robin Hannibal and Mike Milosh.
“It was never the intention to keep our identities secret”, told Hannibal GroundSounds recently in an interview, “We were just never interested in promoting and exposing our art based on how we looked, or us as individuals. We wanted to let the music speak for itself.” A strategy that turned out quite well for the man who is also part of Californian indie-pop duo QUADRON. RHYE formed with no plan, there were just these songs. And for quite a while there was actually no need to add more and – somehow – there still isn’t. When first experiencing The Fall last year who would have thought that the SADE-like soulful voice does belong to a man? In a society gaining for transparency and total knowledge, the unknown becomes the unique. Music journalists might hate the fact, but it is quite effective – especially when the now released full length longplayer Woman turned out to be as addictive as the previous output.
Opening with the two already known songs, the other eight tunes hint in the same direction. RHYE create a very intimate, very reduced form of modern soul-pop with silces of electronica, 80s jazz-pop and classical music in it. The groove is discreet, the vocals are smooth and Milosh’s stunning performance is clearly what carries the whole longplayer. It feels like a guiding light, a tight embrace and the gentle touch of a loved person. And especially this metaphor is quite fitting for Woman – there is an aura of eroticism floating through these songs. Sexual and emotional intimacy in its purest, combined with honest and romantic lyrics. Lines like “Don’t call me love unless you mean it” in Shed Some Blood tent to go right beneath the skin. Other songs like the slow Verse or the bright One Of Those Summer Days sound like the irrisistable call of your lover to stay with him or her in bed just for a couple of more minutes and hours. Nothing matters but these moments, the songs and the intimate feeling they can create between two people.
And beside the mystery around RHYE‘s first appearance this might actually be the reason why the world is so desperately buzzing about these two talented musicians. Maybe we are all sick. Of course of the aching society we’re living in which is longing for an escape into privacy. But on the other side it’s maybe because we are somehow also tired of the shallow mechanisms of popular culture, of all these strategies, hypes, soulless buzzed ‘next big things’, cynical hipsters, fancy but emotionless art or whatever claims to be one. We want to slowly groove with people we love to tracks like Last Dance. We’d rather dance to smooth 80s beats like 3 Days or tender disco moments like Hunger. There is a longing for something beside this, you can’t deny it.
So, maybe RHYE are the something like the ‘Anti-THE XX‘ in the way they act and sound. Like their British colleques they dedicate their sound to the most simple structures and create a certain intimacy. But the sound of Milosh and Hannibal is full of warmth and sweet embrace. Love, passion, sensuality – combined with great songs and an emotional note not many new bands can create these days. It’s music to drift away in solace and piece, no matter if there is a special person lying next to you in your bed. And although the band is about to become less and less mysterious, maybe it is time for all of us to step back a bit and listen to the songs rather than to all the noises that are created around them. If RHYE ever had a strategy to achieve this – and we clearly doubt that – it is one of the best ever.