Fifth and possibly best album from left-field chamber ensemble
An instrumental collective from the post-rock hive of Louisville, Kentucky, the pensive, neo-classical style of Rachel’s pre-empted that of Godspeed You Black Emperor! by some years. While Godspeed’s music is designed for crypto-anarchic ends, however, Rachel’s are more comfortable in orthodox cultural salons.
Hence this collaboration with the SITI company of New York, a second venture into theatrical music following 1996’s marvellous Music For Egon Schiele. Systems/Layers introduces new elements into Rachel’s’ sound: field recordings, a vocalist (Shannon Wright, on the torchy “Last Things Last”), and a new edginess, too. But mostly, familiarly sombre patterns of piano and string quartet dominate this lovely album.