REVIEW: RJD2 - The Colossus
Zach Hart Wednesday, January 20, 2010
RJD2 - The Colossus
Release Date: January 19th, 2010
Label: RJ's Electrical Connections
Truly a damn shame that Ramble John Krohn's versatility happens to fall under both the blessing and curse categories. It's evident that RJD2 has never been on a tight leash with his sound, but it's that laissez-faireism that seems to be holding him back from consistently creating solid LP's. 2002's Deadringer was a brilliant mosaic of sound and 2004's Since We Last Spoke did a great job of succeeding his debut with a matured arrangement. The Third Hand should have been titled The Third Wheel. This wasn't a left-field piece of work; It was out of the damn ballpark. 2010 presents RJ with a blank canvas. New decade, new record label. So how does this new album fare?
The Colossus carries Ramble back into refreshing territory, effectively delivering more hits than misses. The galactic "A Spaceship For Now" is a true out-of-this-world experience with science fictive synth-heavy sounds alongside a rugged drum arsenal. Soulful additions "Games You Can Win" and Phonte-featured "The Shining Path" achieve refreshing results while remaining relevant to the album's body. The funked up single "Let There Be Horns" is a chaotic collection of instruments ordered in a beautiful fashion. "Tin Flower" coasts on a killer bass line before branching off into Heather Fortune's scintillating flute performance. There aren't many producers who can unfold a track as beautifully as RJD2.
My frustration kicks in when I reflect on all of these solid tracks and come to the realization that he's already dabbed into all of it. The funk from Deadringer's "Ghostwriter" and Last Spoke's "1976"! The soul from "Work" and "One Day"! "The Proxy" and "Iced Lightning" from outer space! That's where the RJD2 love comes from. I'm in love with the familiarity. Ramble crosses the polytropic line with "A Son's Cycle", as an underwhelming pace accompanies underwhelming microphone work. The languor feels out of place, sandwiched between two effervescent funk pieces. "Gypsy Caravan" is one hell of a tease, beginning in a dreamy chillwave cloud only to fall into a hefty guitar ballad that is both lyrically and sonically daft.
This album is an adventure that voyages anywhere and everywhere, but it has the maturity to head home on the last track, borrowing from the "Horns" single at the opening of the LP. The Colossus should have been titled The Capricious. But what the hell, it's fun, damnit.