And there’s still a slew of Others, too: Pocahaunted, Double Leopards, Driphouse, Super Minerals, Rene Hell, Mouthus, Sex Worker, Burning Star Core, Skullflower, Charalambides, Innercity, Sun Araw, Topaz Rags, Yellow Swans, Raccoo-oo-oon, High Wolf, Rashad Becker, Excepter, Valerio Tricoli, Lee Gamble, etc. Simply put: Helm’s Rawabet is a live cassette release, recorded entirely at a venue in Cairo — which is amazing — but [unfairly to Helm] I’d love to see any one of the aforementioned musical acts perform under the same circumstances and recorded as well as Rawabet was recorded. This is why I’ll critique the release solely based on performance and accretion.
Helm is within the ranks of greatness, having contorted remarkably through an impressive discography, but Rawabet feels audibly surfaced and scattered. On the release, Helm mostly collides headfirst into a loud mesh of noises — sometimes symphonic, sometimes entangled in reverse acoustics, brooding in a tumble of collages and trembling as stagnant stew, with digital telepathic echoes flushed out by sax or guitar or both in unison. AUTOTUNE?? The madness of Rawabet is where shifts in focus linger on the edge while maintaining marginal attention. As if when Helm manifests something outstanding in sound (which there are MANY [as a big live-release fan, my expectations were HIGH for this one]), the scrutiny and deliberation dissipates immediately, like a chase for love but swiped from longevity.
Let’s pull back the judgement for a minute and suggest that Rawabet is a lot like those mid-aught to early-tween, turn-of-the-century sound-slither/-slide tone jams that were intended to be recorded live. [RENEG on that whole “This is why I’ll critique the release solely based on performance and accretion.”] RE: Helm breathes a real nostalgic glory (We Will Meet At Other Human Parties, Impossible Symmetry, Orange Tanks, Chrysalis, etc.); RE: RE: “Helm’s Rawabet is purely live” is potentially one of the releases that helped us fall in love with how live-recorded garage psych-drip evolved into basement-made, out-of-control electronic production around the turn of the decade. Imagine if Rawabet dropped between Axe and Elegy For Beach Friday: we’d have another frap of sound that continued to tie in with psych freak-out and digital sound art — anachronistically/hopefully/hindsightedly.
Helm “Live in Cairo” is merely playing the thaumaturge, withholding the everlasting belief in digital vibration, and Rawabet is like sound revealing some great magic tricks 10 years past their prime. Rawabet is overly impressive. It’s practically bragging, like Helm’s resume infinitum. Adventurous. Maybe a little too thorough. But a quest worth embarking on.