I struggled initially, thinking of how to properly set up my review of Mother of Curses, the debut record from Chicago-based trio D. Rider. I considered discussing how many avant-garde musicians often find it difficult to bring their sounds into a live setting, but that was much too generic and trite an approach. From there, I contemplated hashing out the differences between those acts that have taken their experimental compositions from tiny pubs into sold-out arenas and those who have never dreamed about approaching the mainstream, but to do so would have been overly and unnecessarily confrontational. Making music shouldn’t be turned into some kind of competitive event.
In the end, I decided to talk about the actual music being made by the band, the dense art-rock being created here, experimental, but not quite accessible, aural weirdness that has doggedly syncopated, yet minimalist, drumming as its principal power source. Alongside the presence of sonic oddities like the sound of a magic marker scribbling on a whiteboard and the shaking of a spray paint can, guitars, cornets, and saxophones weave their way throughout of the overall mix, revealing a band that revels in its purposed, intentionally eclectic instrumental arrangements. “Arranged Marriage To No Toms” and “Dew Claw Don’t Claw” are first-rate songs, but it’s the album-closing track “Misery Whip,” in all of its excellently eccentric noise-metal glory, that provides D. Rider with the ultimate opportunity to introduce its overall thematic vision to the world. As outside-the-box as this album is, Mother of Curses is no mere studio artifact.