OVER THE RHINE
Published in MAGNET (Philadelphia), Number 4, December 1993
|I saw Over The Rhine -which takes its name from the artsy Cincinatti neighborhood
the band calls home- at a small club this past summer, having heard and
knowing nothing about it.
The band's live show impressed me to no end, especially the powerful and intense performance of lead singer Karin Bergquist. She evidently lives (rather than simply performs) these songs of passion and yearning, crossing the line between detachment and transcendence with an uncompromising involvement and openness that left me a little bewildered and queasy, considering how close to the core she cuts it.
Also quickly noticeable was Rich Hordinsky's technically brilliant and hard-rocking guitar playing, which goes from raw, wailing, saturated legato to incredibly precise single note-picking, delivered with superb taste and a perfect sense of place.
Linford Detweiler, chief songwriter, bassist and keyboardist, elaborates on the marked difference between the edgy, bluesy, nearly funky live sound and the much softer, folkier feel of Patience, Over The Rhine's most recent album:
"Patience is a couple of years old. It was originally an independent project recorded to continue to explore who we were... it was very much a demo, even though it ended up not looking like a demo, and eventually fell into the hands of IRS Records... We really only had a little over a week to work on the record. We began working on it in Cincinnati and ended up using a studio in Nashville. When all was said and done, we were a little alarmed at how polished it came off. It didn't have a lot of quirkiness and rough edge."
Was rerecording the entire thing a consideration, as the band was not entirely happy - especially with the guitar sound? "That was our first choice," Detweiler says, "but IRS felt so strongly about putting out Patience as an initial introduction to the group, saying, 'We love this record, we want to put it out.'" That they did.
As for the contrast between the album and live performance, Detweiler says it's "due to the fact that we're playing a lot of rooms that just aren't conducive to more introspective stuff. When we record, we strive for subtlety, for details, we try to do things that aren't obvious... It's like painting, we're working with nuances and so forth; the live performance is very much like taking a snapshot - it's four people, it's immediate, its a lot more direct...
Also, Rich's sound has changed a lot in the last couple of years...
To me, it keeps it more interesting to record and then reinvent ourselves a little bit live."
Detweiler is very enthusiastic about recording another album. He says IRS wants Over The Rhine to enter the studio (probably in L.A.), and the band is ready to go. "We won't approach the recording a whole lot differently," he says. "We'll be very conscious of detail, we'll strive to be understated. But the overall feel of the arrangements will probably be more organic, more lively than the way they came off on Patience."
The CD booklet from Patience shows Over The Rhine's keen interest in packaging as an art form - fine art photos, woodcut reproductions, good paper stock. "We have this sense of trying to make things into pieces of art," Detweiler says. "We're book lovers and book collectors... And living in Over the Rhine had us surrounded by legitimate artists. (Photographer) Michael Wilson has become a wonderful mentor. And because his work is so closely connected to where we started the band, it seemed like a natural marriage to use his work in association with the music...
Also, Rich and I dabbled in some formal music training at a small, liberal arts college in Ohio."
Over The Rhine is opening for Squeeze this fall, and its powerful live performance should make it a little tight for the Brits. If you go, Over The Rhine is a perfect reason not to be fashionably late.