We descend a marble staircase and walk into a basement made of music, a different kind of music than I am accustomed to. Here, guitars give way to phasers, flashing lights replace tightly-wound strings and inaudible, low-level vibrations speak to our skin instead of our ears. Here, The Righteous Rainbows of Togetherness are in an environment, most natural to them at least: their trademarked, pineapple-esque hats are put aside along with their robes as the pair try to define their musical rendering of the sublime.
The Rainbows have been playing stages in and around Victoria for over a decade. Core members Thomas Shields and Neil
Cooke-Dallin first bonded over a mutual love of four track recordings while toiling at Milestones in the early oughts. While both Shields and Cooke-Dallin continue to play for a variety of musical projects including Chet, Stray Cougar, and even local magician The Great Gafoni , the Righteous Rainbows project provides them with a safe place to explore musical boundaries: by extension, the duo regularly tests the very limits of sound.
“Something we have going on the backburner is making completely inaudible music.” Shields explains. “You can’t hear anything below 20 Hrtz, in fact, anything below 80 Hrtz is felt primarily through your skin, not through your ears. I’ve been thinking of making music almost exclusively below 20 Hrtz. I want people to feel it instead of hearing it.”
“I phoned all these different companies in search of speakers capable of doing such a thing.” Sheilds continues, “Some of them actually got mad at me. One of the guys said, ‘What you are proposing to do is not right!’ At the time I was like, “Have I exposed some sort of sound secret? Am I in trouble?’ ”
In spite of The Righteous Rainbows’ obvious tendencies toward exploration of the abstract, their primary goal with the enterprise is to get people moving: anyone who has attended a Rainbow show can attest to their skills in invoking kinetic movement. While the Rainbows’ music is unquestionably dense, it is also danceable.
But for the Rainbows, the seemingly simple act of dancing is a defiantly political statement.
“Our aim is to remove people from the consensual hallucination. Even if they don’t dance, they are engaged and by being engaged they are not participating in a sickening social condition and pattern that they are otherwise forced to wander and work and live through endlessly,” says Cooke-Dallin. “The auditory and physical stimulation removes people from being embedded in that hallucination; instead their own minds are forced to interpret what it is instead of relying on something that has been socially contextualized for them.”
And so, with a summer full of festival dates across the island, The Righteous Rainbows of Togetherness shall continue their quest to release people from the constrictions of social conditioning. The band will ease their way into things, fittingly, on Good Friday when they, along with
Transient and Atlanteans, take Lucky Bar’s small stage to unleash their most recent unsettling melodies. While the Rainbows’ music is a wordless music, those in attendance can rest assured that every bleep, blop, and wave of rhythm is cut with a large helping of that nominal other, which words only detract from. The Rainbows simply demand that we dance, and dance we will.
Words by Nick Lyons, photos by Ilijc Albanese
Published in analogue magazine’s April 2015 issue