Rolo Tomassi; if ‘Cosmology’ is your entry point then make sure you’re standing (or sitting) on something soft and comfortable. You don’t want your jaw shattering into a million pieces when it hits the floor now, do you? You’ll be needing it as you try and put into words what you’ve just experienced as you piece your world back together bit by bit. For those of you already familiar with the name and the sound, sit back and watch potential become realised.
For the former group, Rolo Tomassi are a nuclear warhead going off in the Tate Modern. Their songs are energetic explosions of textures, ideas and ambition that rattle your teeth with intensity and soak your brain with vibrant, colourful noise. Banshee beating screams, synths from the arcades of the apocalypse and neck breaking rhythms are all hallmarks of a band that never pull their punches or compromise on their output. If they did, their potent brand of chaotically brilliant hardcore would never have made it out of the gates let alone onto a second album.
‘Cosmology’ is a huge leap forward from 2008’s ‘Hysteria’, which whilst being a solid, well received album in it’s own right, fell short of their earlier releases such as ‘Digital History’ and their self-titled EP. This time however they’ve held nothing back. With Diplo at the helm as producer, Rolo have managed to craft a beautifully balanced album that catapults them to a level far beyond what anyone was expecting.
The opening sortie of ‘Katzenklavier’ and ‘Agamemnon’ whiplash your head out from a fragile, spacial intro into an unstoppable white knuckle sprint to the finish. ‘House House Casanova’ is the sound of a cannibal snacking on an IT help desk; all stabbing guitars, guttural screams and crunching, low bit synths. ‘Party Wounds’ is an overexcited melee of butchered up Blondie disco basslines, B-movie bothering keyboards and contagious momentum that has single stamped all over it.
‘Unromance’ is the sound of a hardcore band outdoing The Mars Volta at their own game in just over four minutes. Complete with bombastic, Latin-tinged guitar lines and intricate, thundering rhythms, Rolo continue from where they left off with ‘Cirque Du Funk’ and do so in style. ‘French Motel’ is a frantic, violent crash back down to reality that swallows you whole before spiting you out the other side in dental record copies. ‘Kasia’ is a plodding epic that builds up to a heart stopping finale before passing you off into the capable hands of ‘Sakia’. It’s an evolving beast with it’s jumbled, busy intro, restrained, sparse middle section and marauding ending credits. ‘Tongue In Chic’ opens with its raw, wailing, “punk rock” guitars and shouted vocals before melting away into a deep, rich malaise of lurching, layered drama and movement on a scale that sucks you in entirely.
What comes next is as mesmerising as it is unexpected. Title track, ‘Cosmology’ is everything that Joy Division achieved with ‘Atmosphere’ but entirely new. Entirely Rolo Tomassi. This album, and its title track in particular, show their upgraded confidence and ability to shape their sound from it’s initial undeveloped feral ferocity and wild, untamed power into something entirely different but just as spell bounding and captivating. ‘Cosmology’ is the sound of a band who have learnt how to channel their creative powers and bend them to their will. Alone, this is a great album but the future will regard ‘Cosmology’ as the start of something incredible. Sit back, plug in and watch it unfold before your eyes.
Written by Greg Johnson