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items tagged with Ragaman

Finding an Easy Oddity: Ragaman, “And Other Anagrams”
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2012-03-22 12:31:30

Ragaman

My first listens to And Other Anagrams, the full-length debut of the Quad Cities trio Ragaman, brought to mind something Andrew Bird said to me in a 2007 interview: “I don’t know what a bass line is supposed to do.” The context was finding collaborators who didn’t play “stock footage,” who fight pop formulas in the creation of pop music.

Bird and Ragaman share an endearing softness and a natural aversion to subjugating intelligence, and both seem constitutionally incapable of conventional approaches, from instrumentation to style to structure. Ragaman employs the sitar as the lead on “Everyone You Know,” for example, and it’s the perfect essential detail: Taking the traditional rock role of the electric guitar, the instrument is comfortable yet foreign, and its chattiness anchors the song. The break of “Ankle Bells” features what sound like kazoos and trumpets – although I suspect some of that is mouth-mimicry.

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Lars Rehnberg, bassist/engineer Gordon Pickering, and percussionist Leif Rehnberg make up Ragaman – an anagram of “anagram,” a joke referenced in the album’s title. Their style is a pop stew with distinct flavors – jazz, funk, and world music intermingle and take turns dominating. But it’s unified enough by its ambition, its breezy texture, and the vocals and playing of Lars Rehnberg – a former co-worker at the River Cities’ Reader.


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