Album Review: Maelstrom – Rhizome

RAAR label co-founder Maelstrom has released a new album Rhizome. Textured, experimental and beautifully crafted, Rhizome is the sort of album that can make you think, dance and even unwind.

The album is named after the research theory, which allows for multiple, non-hierarchical entry and exit points in data representation and interpretation1.

Each song on is incredibly detailed with each element seemingly placed in just the right spot at the right time. There are moments of organized chaos, but the compositions generally feel very well thought out. Rhizome often oscillates between intricately crafted, softer pieces and then a barrage of percussion right after. “Maalish,” “Latent Learning” represent some of those more upbeat and even clubbier records that drive the album forward. In between there are robotic, gentle records like “Dorsal Light Reaction,” with its whirring sounds like light bulbs fizzing, haunting and distorted string elements that bring you back down to earth. “Katydids,” “Looking At the Protocol” each have similar more subdued ideas, while “Tsuga” may be the most robotic of the tracks on Rhizome.

Written largely during quarantine, a major theme for Rhizome was being isolated, but still being interdependent on other musicians and technologists.

“As I was working on the album, I realized that, even as a solo artist isolated in my own studio (most of the album was recorded during lockdown), I was relying on a network of sound designers, software engineers, internet geeks who create patches for synthesizers and sound designers who release free sound banks, to create my music,” explains Maelstrom. 

“My music doesn’t exist in a vacuum, but relies on a continuum of other creations, and on a network of other artists, designers, technology and sound design enthusiasts, or software developers without whom my creative output would be entirely different.”

All of these resources will be shown on the vinyl sleeve (and digitally), tracing back every single sound or patch to its original designer. You can see it below. 

Maelstrom Rhizome

Rhizome Credits

While this album makes for some excellent home listening with good headphones, that interdependence makes it feel best heard on big speakers live at some point. The French producer has created one of the best experimental records so far in 2021 that has the legs to stand with the best at the end of the year. You can pick up a copy of the album here and stream it below.