CD Review

The Rain Design - “Massacre in an Affluent Suburb”

By Marcus Pan

Massacre in an Affluent SuburbI’ve spun Massacre in an Affluent Suburb quite a few times. It’s hit or miss really, mostly missing for me, but they seem like a rather intelligent bunch. Maybe I’m not up to their standards of super high-brow cerebro rock to get it. The Rain Design’s press kit is excruciatingly long, almost book like. But I will attempt to read it right now, really. Watch me. I’m still reading. I’m still reading, but apparently Rain Design have “three fuckin’ keyboards.”

Since 2002, Adam Kozak’s Rain Design have tinkered about with mixing up piecemeal samplings of guitar, rhythms, (lots of) keys and the like into what can only be described as disgruntled loudness. Like Jackson Pollock with a synthesizer, there’s going to be a lot of people who tell me how avant-garde, how way cool and how moving The Rain Design is while to most of us it looks like childish sprinkles of pee on a white canvas painted with mustard and mayonnaise. I apologize. I’m not quite sure where the description came from, but I needed something to do because the press kit’s a little long for me to get through… So now, let’s analyze…

See Your Doctor Today brings us into the fray with tapping rhythms and shaky synths. Vocals are a tad spoken and a tad whiny. Nice handle of electronics, a bit minimalistic, and builds slowly with weird background strangeness. The song will break into a weird piano/guitar handoff for a bit before it comes back around. This part didn’t miss me much, I’m digging the weirdness of it all – a poppy atmosphere with a surreal dark side lying just between the lines. They get a bit dirty punk near three minutes in just to make their point.

Volunteer Blacklisting gets Alice Donut[1] on me, but a little boorish. I like the elctro-counterparts to it, but the fusion of emo-rock and garage punk is put together a bit shoddily resulting in a track that is not as memorable as it could have been. By The Playground in the Ghost Town Rain Design are getting a bit too silly and I start to move on to other things while it plays. Tapping rhythms, guitar power chords, screaming vocals, expected bass loops and off kilter piano and keys mush together into a bad bowl of porridge. Here comes some spoken word: Cream-Colord Rockstars.

Allocations steps in with a nice smooth vibe, acoustic guitar and strange but pleasant background tweaks. After this I tend to get bored. It laces a lot of ambient into the mix, No Exit Sign and Black Car for example, but doesn’t do much to hone my interest beyond its earlier dirty punch, though Black Car comes out being a rather nice tune even if there’s a bit too much windyness laced into it. Teleprompter, while it grows a tad larger, is another good song but tends to lose my interest again. Then they scream at each other for a bit and then sillies itself out in Twink[2] style.

The Rain Design might be a bit too avant-garde to be as enjoyable as they could be. It gets very mish-mash at times, probably leant to by the 6 or 7 or so people and wide keyboard array that are part of Kozak’s project. There’s some fine moments, like the opening See Your Doctor Today and the strangely pleasant sensations of Black Car and Teleprompter. But on the whole it’s something I’d probably pass by had I not had it on my desk for review. And stories are nice, but I didn’t really need to know what everyone was wearing that one dark day in New England.

Contact Information:
Dolechocephalic Records
Post: The Rain Design, 558 Southwick St., Feeding Hills, MA, 01030, USA
Phone: (413) 627-9188
[1] Alice Donut’s Three Sisters was reviewed in Legends #143.
[2] Twink was intereviewed in Legends #128.