|Review: Ben Hosking
For the uninitiated, young UK group Rolo Tomassi (named after a character from the movie LA Confidential) is a scary listening experience. Hell, they’re still a scary listen even after a few rotations of their 2008 debut album ‘Hysterics’.
Fronted by diminutive blonde ingénue Eva Spence, the group play what has been affectionately termed as punk-jazz, whilst on occasion thrown in with the mathcore crowds.
Rolo Tomassi successfully combine the conventional guitar/bass/drum format with heavy use of synth – an added ingredient that has helped the band stand out from other groups playing overtly complex riffs and song structures. No doubt Eva – a wolf in baby lamb’s clothing – also helps the band get noticed; thanks to her angelic appearance and uncanny ability to switch between church choir goodliness and blood curdling abrasiveness like flicking a switch.
Where their first album was perhaps more erratic and off-the-wall; their follow-up ‘Cosmology’ loses none ofthe explosive dynamic and extremity that has left such a lingering impact on listeners and critics the world over.
Indeed, the greater sense of light and shade displayed on ‘Cosmology’ doesn’t just signify a group of maturing songwriters finding their feet. It also goes a long way to making the sonic eruptions on tracks like ‘Unroma’ and ‘Sakia’ feel even more violent.
There are a few more obvious surprises on the disc, like the airy and – dare we say it – beautiful ‘Kasia’ that lures you in with an angelic vocal performance from Eva before slamming the cage door behind you as it begins beating your ears in. Likewise, title track ‘Cosmology’ is an expansive seven-plus minute epic that displays a dynamic range and sonic moods seemingly incongruous with their age.
– Rolo Tomassi