Etcher – Rhythm To The Spin

 Etcher – Rhythm To The Spin

Etcher – Rhythm To The Spin – Album Review

Interesting.  According to the notes I’ve got here, with the exception of the last song on this record, the rest of this lineup was “created and recorded outdoors underneath a 3 sided metal carport on the side of a mountain top glade in the Missouri Ozarks near McClurg Missouri,” which is what gives Rhythm To The Spin its subtitle of ‘The Ozark Cottage Sessions.’  The rest of these notes I’ve got here scattered across my dusty desk lit by a candle burning down to the stub ain’t for you…let’s just say our friend Etcher has been through some shit, and leave it at that.  Life can throw some wild curveballs atcha…and that can be genuinely frustrating to say the least…it’ll make you wanna find your own “3 sided metal carport” out there in the Ozarks to vent out those bottled-up feelings.  Believe me, I get it…it truly sounds cathartic.

From what I understand, Etcher was releasing music that was more along the lines of politically-based stuff & Conscious Hip-Hop prior to what you’ll hear on Rhythm To The Spin, which is definitely not that.  I’ll be real with ya…not everything we’re ever going to record is really for the masses y’all…sometimes we need to make a record that’s more for ourselves as individuals than anything else…and they’re the kind of records that, if we don’t make’em, chances are, we might not ever make another – you feel me?  Sometimes you gotta go through some shit, like Etcher has, and make some noise that’s between you and the stars above ya…as far as I know, there’s no better form of therapy & self-healing I can think of.

You can feel the sting of some of the pain he’s been feeling on the first track called “Rhythm” as it starts out.  Let’s be real here…Etcher’s got some thangs he wants to get off his chest and out into the open, and this record has been declared as the time to do it, so he’s wasting no time on that front.  Good on him.  No time like the present to start the healing process, and the only way out, is through as they say.  Somewhere between stuff you’d find in Hater, Guns & Roses, Butthole Surfers, and Blind Melon, you’ll find a song like “Rhythm” nestled in there…tellin’ ya truths with a backwoods alternative vibe.  More or less, “Rhythm” will lay out the blueprint & theme for a lot of what you’ll be listening to & what Rhythm To The Spin is about…but perhaps just as importantly, it introduces ya to the freedom of creativity you’ll find on this album as well.  This ain’t one of those times where you’ll find me saying the production needs this or that, or that the hooks aren’t as accessible as they need to be blah blah blah…that’s not what an album like this was created for.  Rhythm To The Spin is the record Etcher needed to make so that he could one day make another one…you can’t have thoughts like these blocking your creativity – all these things he’s thinking needed to come out in this recording session so that they don’t on others.

“Thousand Years” is a bit more of a tangible tune.  Downtrodden stuff to say the least, but there’s some real merit to this whole moment that Etcher has created & what this record represents both artistically and personally as well.  “Thousand Years” plays like a bizarre cross between a Pearl Jam demo & and an aggressive underground Tom Petty tune…and of course, ends up being ultimately like neither as a result.  I really loved the guitar solo in this song towards the end, coming from the lead guitar added in by Kendal White if I’m not mistaken…honestly, it’s an absolutely stunning moment, and also somewhat unexpected.  It’s not that there won’t be brilliant moments on display throughout this record, there are many – but that’s not really the priority of why it exists – make sense?  Rhythm To The Spin actually has more in common with a theatrical play or performance piece than it would with anything you would normally listen to…it’s loaded with hidden meanings, purpose, intent, drama…it’s an experience.  A song like “Thousand Years” ain’t a bad tune really…ultimately this is closer to something in the songwriter’s realm that the masses could at least hang with, yet still has enough artistic dimension to it to be justified in this lineup.  Etcher’s a poetic dude with insightful lyricism…that’s what shines through here the most.

“Shattered” is one of the most emotionally intense cuts on this record for sure.  You can feel the burning need for answers to some of the questions that Etcher has…and you get the sense that the source he needs them to come from doesn’t have the ability to give him what he’s seeking out.  So it’s kind of one of those tracks that has him in a purgatorial state…in a sense, many of you will find this relatable…I think we’re all looking for answers we can’t get at different points in our lives.  It’s an honest track that’s raw on purpose…I like that kick of the distorted guitar that comes in to beef up the intensity on “Shattered” – a track like this with its subject matter needed that extra level and I was stoked to hear that it got it.  I think we could debate back & forth about some of the spots in terms of the lyricism and whether or not Etcher’s looking to quickly make the rhyme-scheme work or if he’s really found the right word he wanted to say…but again, I’d probably argue that this record ain’t really so much about doing things from a typical approach.  It’s much more of a free-flowing & conceptual record…which makes us have to adjust the way we listen to it in the sense that, sure, maybe there might have been a better word to use here & there to describe the despair that Etcher is clearly feeling, but in terms of the moment itself, you can’t really ask for much more than what you hear – you following me?  Like, I’m assuming most of this album is made very much within the moment & the mindset, if that makes any sense…and like anyone out there that simply lets the creativity flow in whatever it is they do, we can stand back later on and pick tiny things out that maybe we’d have done better from the writing to the performance or whatever, but that all takes time.  Art and music can be much more urgent than time allows for at points in our lives, and Rhythm To The Spin is a record made in that type of regard…so we get moments like we hear on “Shattered” that could certainly go on to be further refined, but as a moment in time, it really served its purpose in-full.  Plus, in my opinion, it’s still a gripping track to listen to on several levels.  Objectivity after the fact only ever is what it is…almost anything on earth seems like it could have done this or that differently to make it ‘better’ with time and distance…but serving a moment can be truly significant too.

Etcher gets it I’m sure.  Dude’s an outright philosopher when it comes right down to it.  Listening to the insightful points he’s making on “Backscratcher” should make a profound impact on ya if you’re paying close attention.  From what I can tell, this track is all about what it’s like to be used, straight-up.  Again, whether you wanna admit it or not, many of us have been there…we’ve spent our time, our money, and our souls trying to fit in with someone or fill someone else’s needs, only to find out that any decent bank account could have done exactly the same thing, and that emotions, thoughts, and feelings weren’t ever really a part of the equation.  Being used and abused ain’t good on any level…it’s something that you always wish the people you love never have to go through, yet so many people do at some point in time throughout our lives…I hate to say it y’all, but more than half the human race is wired in a way that doesn’t really care all that much about anyone other than themselves.  If you’re reading that & thinking, ‘NO Jer @ SBS, that’s not the case at all’ – I’d like you to consider just how lucky you are and realize that you’d be the exception, not the rule.  Those with empathy, heart, sincerity, authenticity, and integrity get stomped on in this valley of malls we’ve created, and that’s the facts.  Our world is filled with takers of all kinds, whether it’s the things we have, the time we have, or otherwise…and unfortunately, we have to remain constantly vigilant so that we’re not being taken advantage of.  That being said, if you factor in the love aspect into any scenario like this, it becomes extraordinarily easy to put our blinders on and not recognize that we’re being played…that’s where things get tough.  Once you find your way through all that mess, you end up looking back on the situation realistically, and write “Backscratcher.”  There’s no doubt it’s amongst the toughest things we encounter as human beings with beating hearts, but I can say with full confidence that these are situations you learn from, and become better for having gone through it.  It might harden your perspective on people to a degree…but that knowledge becomes another arrow in your quiver, more experience you can draw from…and life-lessons you’ll never forget.

“Underrational Beings” dives into these topics a little bit more…dialed-out to expand into larger areas of humanity that’s been steered in the wrong direction from commerce to slavery…it’s basically a track that deals with perception and the grim nature of reality.  As much as I’d love to tell ya that Etcher is wrong about a lot of what he’s singing about, as far as I can tell, he’s singin’ the truth more or less…we had a real opportunity with Earth to make this whole place paradise, and instead we paved it to put up a parking lot, as the great Joni Mitchell once reminded us.  So…I mean…you can look at a track like “Underrational Beings” in a couple of ways…it’s objective, but perhaps a little on the defeatist side of things too…and to be fair to Etcher, I don’t know how anyone just escapes feeling like that when they’re in a mood that’ll get’em howling out loud under the roof of a “3 sided metal carport” in the Ozarks.  If you’re at that point, like I said earlier, the only way out is through…you gotta let all this stuff out of your head, into the world, let the whole situation simmer, and come back stronger & ready to battle whatever the next chapter of the story may hold.  I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever that if we all took a good look at the chaos we’ve created on this planet that we’d all be miserable AF every single day – how could we not be?  We’re all allowed to have our moments where we need to be miserable – but in my opinion, we also need to find the strength required to rebel against staying that way.  While there is an undeniable amount of pain and sadness that roams around on this planet in every corner, there’s also an indescribable amount of beauty that attempts to balance it out, and we need to remember that.

“Void” seems to capture something really rad in my opinion.  There’s a feeling you can really only get from a couple records in the Grunge era…mainly No Code by Pearl Jam, but it also shows up a little on Yield later on as well…and you don’t really hear that side of Vedder again until years pass and he starts letting loose creatively on the Into The Wild soundtrack.  Anyhow.  As raw as that stuff tended to be, it also contained the genuine essence of creative freedom and spirituality combined…which is very much what listening to “Void” seemed to sound like to me.  As Etcher sings out “where did I go wrong” and questions his existence out loud for y’all to hear, he gets bonus points for the drums that appear on this tune, and the wild hint of rasp in his voice at his most resistant, rebellious, and intense.  All-in-all, I’m into it…I can appreciate that there’s a lot to “Void” that sounds like it’s the start of an idea as opposed to a completely finished one, but I feel like that’s true of a lot of the songs on this record and never really felt like that was any kind of detriment to the lineup.  As I’ve been tellin’ ya from track one, Rhythm To The Spin was meant to be a raw, honest, and real experience…in my opinion, it’s achieved that entirely.

That being said, Etcher gets an assist from his homie wingclipper to produce the final tracks “Open Oceans” & “Take Me Home,” the latter of which he’ll also appear on…and while the difference in the direction is fairly noticeable, the songwriting stays consistent with the set-list of Rhythm To The Spin.  At the very least, “Open Oceans” definitely feels like it completely belongs to this lineup every bit as much as any of the other tunes do.  I ain’t gonna lie to ya, that extra sparkle & shine and beat at work to supply a bit more tangible rhythm to Etcher’s “Open Oceans” seems to really pay off well for the man.  In many ways, promoting a record like this isn’t going to be normal…Etcher’s going to have to get creative in that sense if that’s the route he wants to go with it.  In my opinion, I think “Open Oceans” is probably one of the stronger candidates to put out there as a potential gateway single as it’s a track that somewhat meets the album & listeners halfway if you know what I mean.  It’s not quite the first six songs, but it’s not that far off…and as much as I like “Take Me Home,” I’m not entirely sure that’d be the track you’d wanna put out there given that it is much more different than the majority of the set-list.  If you’re looking for my opinion on the most single-worthy cut of the record in the traditional definition of what a single is all about, then yes, my answer would immediately be “Take Me Home” – but what I’m saying is that the real key to a song bringing people into the record is that they’ll find more of what they hear in whatever single you choose to put out there.  “Take Me Home” has Etcher going back to the world of music where he’s come from, flipping the script back to Conscious Hip-Hop with wingclipper alongside him…and there’s no doubt that this is something that completely works on every level.  I don’t know what it was that got him to add this track to this particular record given that it’s as different as it is – I think we get a bit of a bridge in between the two worlds of sound with “Open Oceans,” but there’s no doubt that the biggest departure from this whole set is found in the final cut on this record.  Between its sound and the title, I think we can infer that it’s a nod to Etcher likely going back to his roots as a rapper after this particular project…that’s my gut feeling, I don’t know that for a fact.  I think he did a stellar job of testing the waters, expanding his musical palette, finding out what he’s capable of, and creating the catharsis he sincerely needed throughout this lineup of songs on Rhythm To The Spin…and “Take Me Home” makes it feel like he accomplished what he set out to achieve.  Like I’ve been saying, it’s the very making of this particular record that will essentially allow the opportunity for EVERY record he makes from here on out to even exist, so trust me folks, it was crucial to his career that this album was made.

Definitely a memorable experience overall if you ask me.  I know I’ve got a bit more insight into this record than I was able to share with you here in the notes I’ve got…and maybe with more time and distance, Etcher will find a place where he’s comfortable with sharing all the details with ya.  Overall, I just hope the guy ends up continuing to follow his path, his dreams, and his talent; it’s tough not to let the many perils of life distract us from our art and being who we’re meant to become, but perseverance is key.  From everything I’ve heard here on this record in his words and in his voice, Etcher’s ready to battle back against anything that’d try to keep him down, and find his way through the toughest situations he’s had to go through in order to reach those better days ahead…and I salute that.  He’s got the determination, passion, and true grit required to go the distance…it’s up to him to get there & take his music to the next level now that he’s gotten all this off his chest & off his mind throughout the set list of Rhythm To The Spin.  I’d put my chips all-in on this dude…his mind is strong, and his heart is stronger.

Etcher’s Rhythm To The Spin is coming to Bandcamp this February 24th with priority access to CD’s and Limited Run Cassettes.

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