logo

Become a member || Login
REVIEW: RHOMBUS - ONWARDS
Onwards

Rhombus
Onwards

(Buy mp3s)
Click to add the CD to your shopping bag
(ships within 24 hours)



Rhombus

Rhombus
Rhombus

Bass Player

Rhombus
Bass Player

Future Reference

Rhombus
Future Reference

Shuk-Wah Chung, The Program


I've CHANGED!

Reggae can be so boring with its laid back 4/4 timing, predictable bass lines and raspy vocals that sounds like they're half asleep. Its repetitive chord structures strikes me clueless as to how this musical style can be revered amongst the populous. It's as formulaic as a boy band, as inventive as Hollywood produced teen mock-umentaries and holds my attention span as much as commercial radio. Pass me a bass guitar and I'll demonstrate exactly what I mean! But having blindly put on the new album from Rhombus I found myself hip shaking to dizzying heights yet totally relaxed at the same time - I felt like I was enjoying a spliff with the Rastas.What's happening? I was asking myself.
Anyone can make a beat, vary it on the 1 and 3 and sing lyrically over it. Am I really dancing to this?! So what makes Rhombus so unique? Listen to the first three tracks and you'll catch onto the diversity of the Rhombus crew that make them so strong. Opening with the samba groove in Swans (remix), onwards to a bossa nova, smooth, space rhythm in Ghost Town Dub, and onto a contemporary swing take on the remix of Soul complete with rebel beat poetry, each track is unique and most importantly danceable. Tour of Outer Space is one of the sexiest tracks I've heard with thanks to the breathy vocal talent of Raashi Malik and Imon Star as they sing metaphor about passionate dancing in space and loved ones being far away from each other. Hailing from Wellington, NZ, Rhombus have enlisted the help of their own ocal music contemporaries and friends like DJ Fitchie of Fat Freddy's Drop who has remixed their first radio single Mile High, Auckland producer/engineer/DJ Submariner and electronic/cinematic composer Rhian Sheehan, who have all put their own spin on some of the tracks. Even Lee Scratch Perry makes an appearance with samples taken from a live press conference.
The result is a diverse and eclectic album laden with just the right amount of dub and reggae interspersed with spoken word, hip-hop, global groove, acid jazz and electro beats. Combined with previously unreleased tracks from their past three releases this album could be interpreted as partly influenced by record company pressure. Nevertheless, despite whose choice it was, Rhombus have done a good job of keeping fans on their toes. Its stellar production enhances the cacophony of sounds woven through the beats making it exciting and full of tiny surprises like the gentle reverb percussion, random rattles, sweeping space patterns, subtle panning, and is that a theremin I hear? Rhombus has developed a healthy rapport from their tight knit livep erformances that transcends onto the production of this album. Catch them next time they're on the festival circuit. They'll change the way you think about reggae.


Lucy Wyatt, SANDWICHES

Launching their Onwards tour, Rhombus first landing was Wellington's Sandwiches to introduce their new crew. Plugging last year's much needed international release of Onwards: Remixes and Archives, the culturally diverse crowd were eager to hear where Rhombus were at. Formed in 2001, this tour is a symbol of change and a new structure looking ahead. Now spreading their voice and the spirit of their past successful albums Bass Player and Future Reference, throughout New Zealand and Australia. The remix of Swans gracefully glides through the air, with Lisa Tomlin's deeply soulful brilliance soaring high. Again with DJ Fitchie and Tony Chang's funky mix up of Mile High, Lisa's voice is a strength that adds to Rhombus' depth, ensuring the crowd were all positive smiles and dancing feet. Sticking with the ladies here, Raashi Malik's  voice enlightens the band with her Indian roots. Her voice encapsulates her Eastern culture and again Raashi's glowing input was widely respected and embraced by the expressive and contented crowd. MC Antsman and Lisa Tomlin together had it going on with Future Reference, proving to be a favorite on the dance floor. Spaceman was part of their second encore allowing a nostalgic grin and MC Mana's lyrical blast in Onward also kicked things up nicely with a heartfelt dub vibe....the remixes are tight and their travels ahead could add another level to this band's lifespan. As long as they keep producing the quality sounds of the old Rhombus, their original and future fans shall not be disappointed.


Peter Thornton, Rip It Up 2006

Usually remix albums for me signal a band that is just cruising and being a little bit lazy. This effort has changed my mind a little to admitting there is some value in the mix.
Rhombus, a veteran of the Wellington scene, have produced two albums; the phenomenal Bass Player(2002) and last years follow up Future Reference. Most of the material in this collaboration is rom the latter with two tracks 'Onwards' and 'Tour Of Outer Space' cleverly remixed amid some tracks from the archive. Future Reference was a great album in parts but also let itself down with some pretty average tracks. In part, this album makes up for that. Like a plane ride, so often used as a metaphor in Future, the excitement of taking off and landing is matched by the brilliant beginning and closing tracks on Onwards.
A few of the outstanding tracks are 'Soul', that captures a harp back to the old-school dance hall, DJ Fitchie's bizness upgrade of 'Mile High' and the Submariner Extended Remix of 'Tour of Outer Space'. The rest of the album is like the entirety of a mundane flight punctuated by moments of magic that grab your attention. Most people have an opinion about the remix and this album should add air-miles to the argument that is a worthwhile journey to take.


Duncan M, Inthemix 2006


Rhombus are yet another group hailing from that incredibly rich source of roots-based music – Wellington, New Zealand. The core of the group is made up of producers Simon Rycroft and Thomas Voyce, with Imon Star on the mic, but use is also made of many guest vocalists. Onwards, as the name suggests, consists of remixes of tracks from their previous 2 albums, and tracks pulled from the archives. As well as remixing their own tracks, they have called in the talented Rhian Sheehan, DJ Fitchie (of Fat Freddy’s Drop fame) and Submariner.
The Rhombus sound is an interesting one, combining hip-hop, soul and deep dub influences. The album opens with the gorgeous upbeat and optimistic remix of ‘Swans’, featuring the vocal talents of diva Lotus (I think). I was a touch confused by the line “Ramen is my only solution”, but on closer listening I think the MC may actually be saying “rhyming”. Next up is a dub version of The Specials classic ‘Ghost Town’. While I was a big Specials fan in my younger days, I was never a huge fan of this particular track, but the spaced out dubbiness of this version really works, giving a very ghostly feel.
DJ Fitchie’s remix of ‘Mile High’ brings a funkier vibe to proceedings. While I haven’t heard the original, this version is excellent. ‘Dang Dub’ is a rolling, skanking masterpiece that is a perfect example of just how good the dub sound can be. Heavy on the reverb and with prominent bass and riddim, this is how dub should be done. In a similar style is Kurnia Dub, a track which samples the legendary, if somewhat eccentric, Lee “Scratch” Perry. A touch of melodica gives the track a more vintage dub kind of feel, but is equally well done.
Rhian Sheehan is a musician of whom I am a particular fan, so it is somewhat disappointing to find that his remix of “Sojare” is a little below par. His style is always understated, but on this track it’s so understated as to be verging on bland. It does pick up a bit after about 3 minutes, but the track as a whole left me wanting more. Submariner’s take on “Tour of Outer Space” is an interesting track with an odd beat and some quality rapping. Nice and downbeat, it leads into the album closer, an extended dub mix of “Scorching Bay”. This 12-minute epic is very spacious, and could possibly bore those with short attention spans. I get the impression that it was added to pad out the length of the album, but for those who like their dub deep, it is a good track.
It seems that the supply of excellent music coming out of the relatively tiny city of Wellington is almost never-ending. To names like Fat Freddy’s Drop, The Black Seeds and Shapeshifter, you can add Rhombus. This is a very good and varied release, well worth checking out.