Rain, Singularity, November 23, 2020
Tracks: Devils Will Reign (7:02), Dandelion (7:01), Walkaway (12:51), Magician (11:17), Singularity (9:24)
Band Members: Rob Groucutt: Vocals, Guitar, Keys
Mirron Webb: Vocals, Guitar
Andy Edwards, Drums plus additional instruments
John Jowitt: Bass
Digging back into the end of 2020, we’ve come across another album from last year that’s not to be missed. UK-based Rain feature unique vocal harmonies, lush musical textures, and compelling lyrics. The band features two well known prog musicians in John Jowitt of IQ, Arena, *Frost, and Jadis and Andy Edwards of IQ and *Frost. Vocals and guitars are handled by Rob Groucutt and Mirron Webb, who both excel on the album. The talents of these four member mesh masterfully on Singularity.
Right from the get-go on “Devils Will Reign” the band makes it clear that they aren’t going to limit themselves to any pre-cut style or expectations. The vocal harmonies are beautiful, and the musical shifts mirror the vocal shifts as the song bounces back and forth between Groucutt and Webb on vocals. The Spanish guitar passage was both unexpected and thoroughly enjoyable. Lyrically they pull no punches, but I’ll leave my interpretation out of it and let you absorb it for yourself.
“Walkaway” sounds like it could be a Haken b-side. It isn’t metal, but it sounds very much like Haken’s quieter moments, particularly on The Mountain. The combination of vocal harmonies and the abrupt way in which they sing the lyrics sounds very similar to Haken. Musically the song is more reminiscent of pre-pop Steven Wilson. Some instrumental passages remind me of Steven Wilson’s “Transience” off Hand. Cannot. Erase. Lyrically the song appears to rail against growing totalitarianism that many western countries are engaging in using the Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse. No conformity here. Rain think for themselves. The vocals take on a layered robotic sound about ten minutes in, which brings in the theme of growing technocracy that appears elsewhere on the album.
Your freedoms are old news
And lying is double truth
Your freedoms are old news
You’re missing the good times
You’re craving human connection
A new world is here before you
And no one knows what to do – no
“Walkaway” builds to a soaring guitar solo backed by a simple yet prominent bassline. The song then returns to the Haken-like chanting “walk away, hesitate, take a day, isolate, walk away, hesitate…” At just under 13 minutes, the song is epic in the traditional progressive rock sense. It has the space to move through different musical and lyrical themes.
Rain shines with a truly unique sound on”Magician.” I suppose the vocal harmonies are a nod to Gentle Giant, but the varying musical styles the band moves in and out of throughout the song keep it sounding fresh. Lyrically the song seems to tap into that theme of growing technological overreach, and that gets reflected in the music as well through various keyboard sounds. Even the guitar work at points reminds me of a computer with a simple back and forth that could be interpreted as the 1s and 0s of a computer. The guitar takes on a bit of a Robert Fripp tone in those moments.
The final track, “Singularity” is the most atmospheric and experimental song on the album. The vocals again remind me of Ross Jennings from Haken, but the music is much softer with swirling keyboards, airy guitar sounds, smooth jazzy drums, and steady bass. In the second half it start to sound experimental with various sampled sounds and lyrics repeated from earlier in the album – almost as if the band are sampling themselves.
In some ways the final song is a departure from the rest of the album, but at the same time it really isn’t because the band never limited themselves to any one sound. They try different things, and careful listenings will pick up new musical and vocal sounds on repeated listens. I appreciate the band’s courage in their lyrical content. In an era of mass conformity, Rain throw conformity out the window in both their stated words and their music.
Singularity would definitely have made my best of 2020 list had I heard it when it came out. It is incredibly interesting on all levels. The vocal harmonies really lift their sound by adding an extra layer of complexity to their already-complex musical soundscape. This band works really well together, and I hope they continue to release new music in the future.
Youtube playlist of whole album: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRM7BpZzvD0&list=PLp87vn7bPFfSYuGAvyaJSZYwwetwssmeg