Rolo Tomassi have spent 17 years leading the pack rather than following and their upcoming sixth album Where Myth Becomes Memory, sees them lead with more poise and determination than ever before. Where Myth Becomes Memory serves as the final part in an unintended trilogy that began with 2015’s Grievances and continued with 2018’s Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It , the most critically acclaimed album of the band’s career to date . Every Rolo Tomassi album shows signs of growth but Where Myth Becomes Memory serves as a culmination of a period of creativity that has exalted Rolo Tomassi to legendary status, a singular vision where the most savage, unhinged sonics can co – exist harmoniously with epic cinematic elegance and grace. Expanding on the trilogy thesis, vocalist Eva Korman says ‘those records are where we really found our stride. They felt like a departure from what we had done before, so we approached this one as a kind of closing statement to this collection of work’.
Certainly Where Myth Becomes Memory takes several ques from its predecessor, expanding the grandiose piano soundscapes and melodic sensibilities that were hinted at on Time Will Die … into grand sweeping statements brimming with assurance and self – confidence. Whilst the Rolo Tomassi that released debut Hysterics in 2008 would have been predominantly influenced by the heavy – hitting disarray of Converge, The Chariot or The Dillinger Escape Plan, Where Myth Becomes Memory expands the band’s palette to its broadest point yet, with flutters of Steve Reich and Ólafur Arnalds as much a part of the Rolo palette as the chaotic mathcore that first inspired them. Keys player / vocalist James Spence cites the song Closer as an example of their expanded focus. ‘In the past, songs like Closer felt a bit more calculated, whereas this time it was more organic. We’re a lot more confident about what we do; we can really put our best foot forward and not be afraid to show that side of ourselves. Whereas before, we might’ve had to find the space to put a song like that on the record, this time we were confident that the quality of the song writing would shine through and that’s what gives it a place on the record.’
The quintet, rounded out by Chris Cayford (guitar), Nathan Fair weather (bass) and Al Pott (drums), have never taken the easy route, always building on what has come before. This slow but steady career progression is apt, for the themes of Where Myth Becomes Memory are ones of renewal, rebirth and living in the present in the hope that it will bring a better future. ‘ Grievances came from a very dark place for me,’ says Eva, ‘I reflected a lot on that record and then Time Will Die … was about letting go, coping with that darkness and moving on from it. I felt like I was reflecting less on this record and exploring more where I was in the moment. A lot of the themes are about renewal, rebirth, new beginnings but also closure on some of the music we’ve written in the past. Between the three of them that journey felt very transitional.’
Where Myth Becomes Memory marks the first album Rolo Tomassi have written since Eva moved to the US. ‘I think if anything, it made us even more obsessive on the details and go through them in a way that we had never done before and that ended up finding its way into the music.’ The preparation that the band brought into the studio allowed them time to experiment more, abandoning song ideas that weren’t working (a concept once alien to them), experimenting with sequencing and creating a smorgasbord of sounds such as microphones rattling detuned piano strings.
‘Patience and discovery was an initial theme that James and I had when we were coming up with the album title’ says Eva. ‘It felt like a puzzle, pulling all these different parts together, trying to make it gel as one cohesive piece of music from start to finish and for people listening to be able to hear there’s a journey within the album itself.’ James picks up from his sister’s thread, ‘we wanted people to really get lost in it and we were fortunate in that there were so many different colours to play with on this record, but it also made it the most difficult in terms of piecing it together in a way that didn’t feel clumsy.’
This experimentation led the band down a path with many twists, turns and dead ends, a concept that Eva ran with. ‘One of the themes James and I discussed when it came to lyrics was mazes and labyrinths; when it came to working on this it was like a spiritual journey, working your way through in the hope of getting to the other side and experiencing some kind of awakening or realisation.’
They began to explore imagery around mazes, labyrinths, doorways, ceremonies and Janus, the ancient Roman god of beginnings and transitions who is often depicted with two faces, one that looks to the future and one that looks towards the past. The song Drip plays into these theme s of searching and yearning symbiotically , dealing with the intricacies and foibles of the mind, whilst Cloaked ’s themes of growth through upheaval tie in nicely with the cohesive and multi – faceted sonic journey that the album takes the listener on.
Where Myth Becomes Memory is the furthest Rolo Tomassi have ventured down the rabbit hole and they’ve come out the other side with the most lofty, beguiling and elegant record of their career so far. This is becoming second nature to a band constantly pushing beyond the boundaries and limitations of their origins in order to find something transcendental yet savage at the same time. ‘We’ve worked really hard at creating this world where our band can do whatever we want’ says James . ‘We’ve really pushed that to the limit and made it as experimental as it’s ever been but a t the same time, it’s the most accessible it’s ever been because of that boundary pushing. This is the best example of us marrying together everything that we love about music and being able to present that.’