New Numero Group release, Ectotrophia, compiles early work by Happy Rhodes

New Numero Group release, Ectotrophia, compiles early work by Happy Rhodes

No matter how obscure your tastes run, there is always another layer to the onion of cult stardom.

Case in point: Ectotrophia, Numero Group’s latest lovingly curated, fished-from-the-depths outsider artist compilation job, which collects early recordings by dream pop singer-songwriter Happy Rhodes.

OK, Rhodes isn’t an “outsider artist” in the strictest sense — she has what folks in the biz like to call “chops,” both vocally and on her choice instruments (acoustic guitar and synthesizer); and her recordings were largely produced in professional studios. But she certainly has been an outsider in terms of her career’s trajectory and her music’s path to its audience, which has been pretty much strictly word of mouth (or word of keyboard).

Rhodes’ classical-tinged, Kate Bush and Queen-influenced music was mostly issued on cassette in the late ’80s and ’90s by the tiny label Aural Gratification, and it found a ravenous audience among a small group of fans that splintered off from a Kate Bush Usenet forum and created their own email list, “Ecto” — named after Rhodes’ fourth album — where they discussed not only Rhodes but other artists whose sensibilities they felt kindred to hers (e.g. Bush, Peter Gabriel, Jane Siberry, and others). They even coined a subgenre for the music, which they also called “ecto.”

The new compilation tells the story of not only of Happy Rhodes’ music, but also of fandom in the early stages of the internet. One of several rickety, homemade (but still operational!) Rhodes-centric web pages is the “Ectophile’s Guide to Good Music,” an extension of the Ecto email list, which can still be perused here. It includes lists of the ectophile community’s favorite albums for every year since 1992. (What were the top “ecto” albums of, say, 2017? Among the arists listed are Alvvays, Fever Ray, Lorde, Tori Amos, and Perfume Genius.)

Ectotrophia is out June 29 from Numero Group as a double vinyl or single CD. You can pre-order it here and listen to the first single, “When the Rain Came Down,” below.

Ectotrophia tracklisting:

01. Oh The Drears
02. I Cannot Go On
03. Would That I Could
04. Where Do I Go
05. For We Believe
06. When The Rain Came Down
07. If Love Is A Game, I Win
08. I’m Not Awake, I’m Not Asleep
09. Baby Don’t Go
10. Come Here
11. Don’t Want To Hear It
12. If So
13. I’ll Let You Go
14. Because I Learn
15. I Am A Legend
16. Perfect Irony
17. Many Nights
18. To Be E. Mortal

Most Read