Album Review: Rahm – Between the Lines

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I think I’m still surprised that people pour their heart and depth of emotion into a genre like traditional prog rock. Besides its status as a fairly significant cultural fragment of a considerably more glorious era, progressive music isn’t exactly the first thing you’d think of if you were looking for the perfect style by which to express emotion.  Hell, even growing up listening to the greats from King Crimson to Dream Theater and beyond, even I could call a spade a spade when the need arose and brushed off even some of the best bands’ attempts at getting touchy-feely. Has a moog solo ever set a couple’s hearts aflame with passion? Have you ever been brought to the midst of tears from a meticulously arranged, ten-part suite? Well, maybe– I certainly have– but the point remains it still seems like a counterintuitive place from which to pour out your soul. After all, it notoriously favours the intellect above all else, intent on pushing the formal boundaries. At least that’s the way it usually goes.

I bring up the focus on emotion and intimacy because that is clearly the heart of everything Rahm does. Although all of the table dressings from Gentle Giant and King Crimson are here, don’t expect anything maddening or cerebral. Instead, the project is fuelled by the multi-instrumentalist’s quiet reflections on life and his family. His EP Between the Lines is the Adult Contemporary style’s take on traditional prog rock. Whether the idea of a completely relaxed kind of prog is well-advised or not is honestly totally dependent on the listener. For what it’s worth, although I’m left wanting a much livelier sound than Rahm is offering, there is some real value to be embraced in the album’s sincerity.

Even at the EP’s most volatile, the music on Between the Lines would probably offer the respite of a quiet ballad on any other prog album. Here, it is the main attraction. Honestly, while that fact definitely makes it hard to feel really excited about it, there is a real charm here that has shown itself a little more each time I listen to it. At a first glance, it can seem like Rahm is reducing the components of prog rock to their gentlest essences. Technically, that is what Rahm is doing, but I only really appreciated when I began to shift my perception of what Rahm was really doing in his music. Instead of judging it by a typical prog rock standard, it is more fitting to interpret Between the Lines with the lens you would give a coffee shop singer-songwriter. Sure, the surface sound are different, but Rahm’s talent is in being able to create that intimate link with listeners, almost as if the music is being performed just a few feet away.

Due to the music’s gentle mainframe (consisting largely of pianos, acoustic guitars, Gilmouresque slow leads and mellotrons) it’s inevitable that your attention drifts to the vocals and lyrics. Rahm’s own voice is fairly good– perhaps a bit limited when it comes to dynamic, but you can tell he can hold his own through his professional grasp of falsetto and vibrato. The female vocal accompaniments are also quite nice on their own, although the arrangement tends to fall apart when the two combine as a duet. The lyrics, while nothing special, paint a pretty vivid picture of a nice man who loves his family and wants nothing more than to see his offspring prosper. Again, maybe not the most exciting topic for an EP to revolve around, but there’s never going to be a point here where you doubt the music as being a mite’s length short of genuine.

Links:

https://soundcloud.com/rahm-music

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