Record Review - 2 October 02 2002

Like a James Joyce novel, the music of RMSN (Royal Majesty’s Shipping News) is never easy to crack. Moments of impending failure, melancholy and depression flow freely, often leading nowhere. But before sadness can sink the ship, hints of something peculiar hovering just below the surface keeps things afloat. Variegated, the third and final installment in RMSN’s handmade EP series, finds the group very much in its morose element, but showing signs of growth.

The first two discs in the series, Carrier and Sickening Bridge, don’t pull any surprise punches — and Variegated isn’t much different. But where the last two EPs find solace in the warm chunkiness of sustained organic rhythms, pulsing samples and a dispirited voice, Variegated is anxious to get things rolling. The same gently strummed guitars and delicate vocals for which the group is known still rise and fall throughout “Dogs” and “Non-Valant,” but they’re offset by the agitation of “Haymaker” and “You Can’t Hide the Mark Inside.” Winding crescendos and fast guitar playing push the music into a sea of new emotions and ideas.

Tension has been swelling in RMSN’s sound for quite some time, and now that tension is finally starting to take shape — which is exactly what the music needed.

RMSN plays The Earl Sun., Oct. 6.??