This scenario is by now familiar to me as it has happened time and time again over the years: I walk in to a favorite record store which is playing some music that strikes a chord with me instantaneously. This is how I got introduced to The Cure and The Smiths back in the 80s. I connected this way with music by Solomon Burke, Bettye LaVette, Beirut, Zero7, Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear and Built to Spill in the 00s. Last time this happened to me I wrote about them here on Audiophile Review when I discovered Mammal Hands.
And “it” just happened again with an interesting young band I’ve never heard of before — and chances are you haven’t heard of them either — called Rib from Macedonia. They have three albums out and this one called Bliss was released in 2017. A record store I frequent here in San Francisco, Originals Vinyl, was playing it and it resonated immediately. Online, Rib seems to be categorized as a sort of surf music but I think its more than that, at least this album which sounds more cinematic and modern leaning.
This music on Bliss falls some where between the epic soundscape flavors of Caspian and the Brazilian group which backed Seu Jorge so brilliantly a bunch of years back called Almaz (another group I heard in public and purchased music by almost immediately, btw). At times the music on Bliss feels like backing tracks for an unreleased Cure album. A friend I played some of this album for said it reminded him of Dive (another group I have been meaning to check out).
The instrumentation here is mostly simple-but-melodic electric guitars, bass and drums with occasional muted ambient-like trumpet signatures floating above it all. This ambient production aesthetic makes this music flow beautifully at times. I imagine this is what a Ventures 45 might sound like if played slowed down to 33 1/3, mashed up at times with Sketches of Spain era Miles.
The sound quality on Bliss — pressed on pretty ivory colored vinyl which is well centered and perfectly quiet — is quite wonderful with a full round bottom end, crisp but not overbearing highs and a sweet mid range. It sounds great when you turn it up loud but also plays well as quiet background music. I don’t know if it was recorded analog or digital but the drums are big and the guitars super natural sounding with lots of nice amplifier tone and room ambiance coming through the mix.
There is an especially nice soundstage feel here which leads me to believe the band might have recorded the basic tracks for this album live in the studio — this feels like complete performances for the most part, not a heavily edited studio creation.
You can find Rib’s Bliss streaming on Tidal in CD quality (click here). It is available on Amazon as an MP3 download (click on the title anywhere in this review for that) and as of writing this are a couple copies for sale up on Discogs (click here). You can find Bliss on Bandcamp (including the vinyl) by clicking here. Alas, I have not found Rib on Qobuz as of this writing.
Rib’s eponymously titled latest album is also up on Tidal (click here) which seems to be veering a bit more toward driving post-punk flavors but still retains much of that nice ambiance which I found so appealing on Bliss. “Serpentine” rocks rather righteously with a sweet swagger groove and a somewhat harder edge. Their debut, Something Completely Different, is also on Tidal (click here). There is a live video of them in trio form on YouTube (click here).
Much fun new music to explore, all hailing from Macedonia! It is, no doubt, a small world after all.