Best Feature: Unique guitar playing.
Genre: Instrumental Indie-rock
Label: Sunset Alliance www.sunsetalliance.com
The first thing I thought when I got “Obey the Cattle” was: “Whoa. This is a small release.” I didn’t really mean it in regards to its length, as it’s plenty long. I meant it in the way the CD has been put together. This CD features ten songs, none of them titled. 9 of these songs are instrumental, with a guitar being the main instrument. There is only one picture as art, no thank-yous, no lyrics, nothing. The only words on the entire album are on the spine (which clearly tells us that this is “Obey the Cattle” by Rajiv Parel), and on his record label’s insignia (Sunset Alliance).
So this is a very unassuming release. That’s rather odd, as Mr. Parel is very, very good at playing his guitar, and good guitarists are usually full of themselves. But not this time: Parel continually amazed me with his humble, mellow style that borrows heavily from Indian music. The music gives you a feel of drifting away, which is very nice.
The problem with this is one that plagues many instrumental albums: It all runs together. And not only does it all run together, but as you get to the songs farther and farther into the album, it gets harder and harder to enjoy. It’s already a peculiar style, but once this peculiar style is over-exploited, it just becomes hard to swallow. Once you finally break through the shell (around the 6th listen to the album -yes, I have spent that much time listening to this album) all the subtleties break through to you, and this becomes a stellar release, full of intricate things. It just takes a long time to break into. Like Radiohead, only less pretentious.
It’s clear that Mr. Parel wants us to judge the album as a whole instead of judging songs alone. The impressions left after listening to the album all the way through:
1. He’s a really, really good guitarist.
2. He’s really hard to get into.
3. If you take the time to get into it, you’ll REALLY like this.
If Mr. Parel were to push his album, it would probably sound something like this: “You know, you could…maybe…buy my cd….cause it’s cool music…perhaps…”. And that’s a tragedy, cause this deserves much more laud than it has received.