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Rats on Rafts – ‘The Moon is Big’

March 14, 2012

The Moon Is Big

I’ll be Frank (Rijkaard); my knowledge of the Dutch music scene is poor. This may be because I’m uneducated on such matters, or simply that there is not much going on – aside from DJ-based acts (such as Laidback Luke) or dated Euro-dance (hi 2 Unlimited).

It’s somewhat heightened by the fact the country is surrounded geographically by countries with a great musical heritage in France, Germany and the UK. In an small effort to redress this balance, I headed to the annual Dutch Impact Party recently, hosted by the Dutch music festival Eurosonic Noorderslag in Kensington (KENSINGTON??!) of all places. Well, it is a stones throw away from the Dutch Embassy.

I came away from the night with not only a belly full of fish-based nibbles, but also enlightened and massively won-over by Rotterdam-based Rats of Rafts. The Anglicized four-piece provide a harsh, yet tight, New Wave/Post-punk blizzard – in your face yet with an air of nonchalance at the same time, summed up in a microcosm by the stylized/non-stylized mop-haircuts. If you were to mix the rawness of early work from The Horrors with some of the newer krautier work of The Horrors – though wihtout sounding too much like The Horrors, this is what you’d get. This is particularly pertinent in Nietzsche-named, signature tune of ‘God Is Dead’.

Mightily impressive and engaging stuff – awash with hazy guitars in the background tapestry, but with infectious, angular riffs slicing across. It’s essentially a smashing tableaux of early 80’s guitar-based acts; with elements of The Cure and the brattishness of The Fall chucked in for good measure. Not too dissimilar of contemporary cold-wave acts such as the excellent Frank (Just Frank).

An album titled The Moon is Big was released last year; so if you want to increase your parsimonious knowledge of Dutch names (aside from Dutch football players), I recommend you invest some time in Rats on Rafts.

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