AMN Reviews: Reid Karris – Rainbow Monolith (2019; Orb Tapes)

Chicago-based improviser Reid Karris offers up another solo release, Rainbow Monolith, based loosely on glitch art. The instrumentation is simple enough – prepared guitars, skatchboxes, and found-object percussion. The skatchboxes and percussion are dominant throughout, providing a scratchy, dense, and aleatoric basis of the 14 short tracks (the album totals slightly less than 30 minutes). There often are 3-4 distinct percussive “voices” present, with little or no drumming and nothing resembling a beat. Instead, Karris creates a jagged and layered non-stop assault, with drones, growls, feedback, and twisted notes from the guitar dispersed around and about.

Thus, Rainbow Monolith employs free-improvisation and extended techniques to an extreme, and in a style of which Karris and a handful of his local collaborators establish and espouse. Or, put another way, this album sounds like what might happen if you emptied your kitchen and had a bunch of friends make noise with the pots, pans, and utensils – with some muted guitar explorations in the background. It is a unique sound and a singular effort that is well worth a jangling listen.

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