I think it’s a safe bet to say that electronic R&B duo, Rhye, can be labeled as elusive chanteurs. Comprised of lead singer Milosh and producer Robin Hannibal, the two have set out to create sensuous sounds with airy, androgynous vocals, laced with groovy beats.
Thus, one’s curiosity is piqued with the dangerous cocktail combination of mystery and talent that Rhye possess. An introduction to their music could be best described as a serendipitous meeting with a sexy stranger.
On tour to promote their 2013 ten-track debut album, Woman, Rhye manages to maintain their enigmatic persona and still sound so focused on their musical style. Performing at the Commodore Ballroom on July 4, their pared down sets and stage productions were refreshing in an age of visual inundation in mainstream music. This kept the focus on their sound and craft, creating a metaphysical plane of intimacy with the audience.
The music eased into the atmosphere. Milosh created a live harmony, building up the layers of his ethereal alto one at a time with Robin Hannibal’s funky synth beats anchoring the arrangement. Then the rest of the band phased in: the plucking of the cello strings welcomed the cadence of the percussion, and with a bow’s caress to the violin, “Woman” started playing.
It was sensual sonic foreplay. Rhye kept the pace slow, serving slow jams, “Verse” and “3 Days,” to build up anticipation for the climax, as Milosh slightly teased the audience saying, “It always takes three songs to warm up.” Further baiting the audience, Rhye played “The Fall” to much cheering and applause. The crowd was given a taste of release, and the song was extended with a wild piano solo before transitioning into another slow tempo track, “One of those Summer Days.” It was then that Milosh’s soulful vocals and the smooth bellow of the horn ached for a climax.
It wasn’t until the latter half of the set that the tension of aural eroticism was rewarded. Rhye brought down the house with the nu disco track, “Last Dance” — a song so sensual, gyration is the only autonomous bodily response acceptable upon hearing it. In keeping with the momentum of climax, the up-tempo groovy “Hunger” followed, with a surprisingly vampy keyboard solo. The cooldown was equally rewarding, as the strings that accompanied “Major Minor Love” were so lush in their sound.
After an hour of play, Milosh apologised to the audience, saying “We don’t have anymore songs . . .” and closed the show with an a capella rendition of “It’s Over” from his 2006 solo album, Meme. It seemed apt as he crooned, “Everything’s so temporary/I should have known.” The lyrics were a thoughtful match to the ephemeral quality of his voice as he sang in the darkness, “It’s over . . .” As Milosh phased out, the band members walked away. Then silence.
That night, Rhye’s musical offerings and performance were sensual and erotic to the core — the aural equivalent of the best one night stand you’ve ever had.