Rice Cultivation Society presents us with another way of passing on to the afterlife.
Mecca Lecca, 2013
7.2 / 10
If you’re unfamiliar with what a sky burial (the title to Rice Cultivation Society‘s latest album) actually is, I would highly encourage you to refrain from reading the following in a space that holds food or children. Are you ready? OK. In some cultures that practice Buddhism they have neither the resources to cremate nor bury a person after they have passed. Instead, the community has elected an individual responsible for the ceremony. The person is celebrated in song as they bring the deceased to a higher elevation. Friends and relatives sing and speak about the person before leaving the elected to finish the burial. The elected individual then proceeds to disassemble the corpse for scavenger birds to consume. It’s a symbiotic relationship that really works for the community.
If not for this process, they could be subject to sickness that could eventually kill the whole village. This could be seen as either disgusting or intriguing, I personally prefer the latter. I say this because they actually help sustain another species. Technically they make better use of their corpses than most modern cultures. The body has a completely unselfish purpose after death. I’m also one of those people who wouldn’t mind donating my body to science after I die. I imagine a lot more people were eaten by dinosaurs back in a day before fire and guns. Yes, I know that’s ridiculous. Dinosaurs never existed.
All that said, it’s fairly untraditional to adopt such an event as an album title. Which raises the question of whether the album or the title track sound like the embodiment of its subject. The answer is kind of. It’s definitely very focused material. At times some of the tracks can feel long and drawn out while Rice Cultivation Society is establishing a jam. The group takes it’s time to relax into its own strangeness. The beat may sound a little off for most of a song until one of the instruments shifts, welcoming that missing sound. There is gratification in that for me.
Sky Burial is reminiscent of a few artists I enjoy. The singer’s voice reminds me of Paul Simon. He’s got this tone like he’s itching to tell you a story because he knows you’ll learn something from it. American Football and Broken Social Scene come to mind when I think if the instrumentation. The band builds lengthy jams that would make either group proud to be an influence. The album as a whole is very guitar heavy; often dictating the direction of the song while the other instruments tell us how fast we’re moving.
Sky Burial is an album I don’t mind listening to repeatedly but also doesn’t cling to me throughout the day. Though this may be an excellent recording and an equally great step forward for Rice Cultivation Society, I’m afraid it’s likely to get lost in the sea of albums that have yet to be released this year. It’s definitely worth a listen and surely shouldn’t be overlooked. You just may not be looking for long is all.