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Sunday, 24 July 2011

Rolo Tomassi - Cosmology

Y’know, they say the kids of this generation are nothing but lazy scumbags, the disinterested products of a society that has nurtured them into apathy, boredom and an unjustified sense of self-worth. Even the television bores them to mindless tears; it just isn’t the same if there isn’t a bit of simulated murder and rape in your Play-wii-three hundred and sixties, or so says the Daily Mail. Well, try telling that to the young rebels who make up Rolo Tomassi. Having been dealt one pretty bad hand in their early lives by growing up in gloomy Sheffield, they’ve stunned many with their ferocious take on math-core, or whatever embarrassing name you chose to label it. Tomassi, despite their age and environment have done with their music what the majority of UK bands could only wish to do – give it a pair of heaving balls and dump them in your face. Warning: if that analogy leaves you feeling a bit queasy, then it might be an idea to skip Cosmology altogether…
So let’s get down to the nitty gritty of what these examples of the creative spectrum of the disillusioned youth have put together. The first half of Cosmology is Rolo Tomassi as you would expect them to be; frantic, chaotic and utterly confounding. It’s almost as if they took the template of debut Hysterics and decided that that just didn’t have enough disjointed rage hurling out of the speakers.
It all opens innocuously enough: we’re led down the garden path by a softly-softly SNES synth and some staccato guitars in ‘Katzenklavier’. But then, out of nowhere James Spence jumps out of the bushes and knocks our innocent faces to the ground with a devastating blow of snarled, and completely incomprehensible, vocals on ‘Agamemnon’. It’s short, but then again this isn’t the kind of abuse you want dragged out over anything longer than two minutes.
These short opening salvos all seem to follow a similar theme, like nuclear bombs dropping intermittently across a variety of war-torn locations. It isn’t until ‘Party Wounds’ that the lovely Eva Spence gets to offer her vocal contributions. And thank god she’s there, because without her grace blossoming some of the tracks then Cosmology is in danger of becoming far too much.
There’s a smattering of influences throughout, from the more obvious (HORSE The Band fans will relish the synth elements) to the more obscure (someone in Tomassi has definitely been listening to a heavy dose of prog rock, with ‘Unromance’ paying a big debt to The Mars Volta).
Even though everything gets a bit too relentless at points (there are some terrible synth-lines on ‘French Motel’ that are forgivable when you consider the band’s youthful naivety to making noise) it’s as the album nears its inevitable end that Tomassi start to show a certain degree of maturity. Sure, all this noise and chaos is wonderful to revel in, but they hit the nail dead on with the closing title track, which takes all the things that makes Rolo Tomassi different and mixes them into something a bit more palatable, a bit more mature, resulting in something a bit more listenable to.
Cosmology doesn’t see Rolo Tomassi play it safe, which is remarkable given the kind of company that the band have started to keep. Playing with the likes of Biffy Clyro, it must be very tempting to make things more palatable for the average ears, but there’s very little of that settling down evident here. In all fairness, the majority of Cosmology does suggest a band that is trying a bit too hard to turn your brain inside out. But it’s those last few monumental tracks that suggest that Tomassi have got the foundations in place to make some truly awesome music, using all the remarkable talent their young bodies can muster.
Take nothing away from Rolo Tomassi. They are hard-working, energetic, and imaginative younglings, and are steadily proving themselves to be one of the most disorintating shining stars within the UK music scene universe.

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