Urthen Web

by Rain Drinkers



Originally released by Brave Mysteries on 100 black on reflective red, professionally duplicated cassette tapes.

"Rain Drinkers is the duo of Wisconsinites Joe Taylor and Xavier Kraal, creating evocative chamber music that flows through a wide range of contrasting movements with a cinematic ease. From spaghetti western-esque horn arrangements through hypnotic electric piano dirges overcome by adept hand drumming and delivered unto comforting cosmic resolve. Moments bring to mind an ecstatic yet equally patient take on the early Popol Vuh albums, but radically dynamic and steeped in a wide variety of organic atmospherics and fidelity. Another kindred vision is a specifically northern and wintry rendering of the soundtrack to Jodorowsky's "El Topo". Unknown to majority of the sonic voyager scene in the midwest, for the last two years these isolated mystery men have conjured and realized a inspiring new world of spiritist sound and we are proud to present this document as a small window into their astounding pocket of the universe."

- Brave Mysteries

"...two sidelong tracks of cinematic quality, with guitar strums, electric piano drones, restrained hand-drumming, and drawn-out horn. It creates a very sober mood that is sophisticated and mature, while maintaining an unbridled experimental attitude. Providing an atmosphere of contemplation, one cannot help but reflect on the questions, problems, and concerns of one’s life. It is a very good catalyst for setting the tone of meditation and introspective thought. Urthen Web has an uncannily natural way of revealing thoughts to you that you never knew you had and forcing you to sit down and think them through. Because of this tape, I found myself in a frame of mind where my distractions were removed, my busyness was undone, and I was left to just ponder and prioritize. I’m not saying that this is a motivational tape that will solve your problems and make you a better person and give you a better life. All that I mean is that Rain Drinkers has a way of producing something that is provoking and intelligent. It refuses to be ignored and be put on the backburner of background noise and face a destiny of being on the same plain as elevator music. No, this has a powerful hypnotic (as in hypnotism) effect upon you that you have no control over. And because it causes you to think and is a medium for deliberation it will be my go to tape for personal concentration. I will use its commanding authority over my psyche and harness its energy to think through my past, my actions, my attitudes. To me, this is not just some release to zone out to and escape from life, but something that elucidates my being and forces me to grow in self-awareness. It’s pretty cool that it holds such clout, such ability for mental stimulation. It’s like the classical music of drone. Click play and see what you discover. It just may improve your state of being. Edition of 100 black on reflective red c32 tapes."

-Foxy Digitalis

"Rain Drinkers is a semi-mysterious duo of Wisconsin’s Joe Taylor and Zavier Krall (which turns to be an alias of Troy Schafer), who like to settle for monumental, folkified ambient in their work. Always appearing in a different scenery, dressed in old-school clothes, the duo bring the sort of intimacy alien to most psychedelic projects in the tape scene; the cover of Urthen Web sees the two people dressed in plain winter jackets and wearing hats (containing feathers), overlooking a vast, frozen winter landscape. The music on the landscape reflects this mood.
The opening “Strange Tapestry” creates an ominous, mournful vibe with a bassy drone and dead man style bluesy desert guitar passage in the style of Barn Owl. The funeralistic atmosphere is further developed with dual trumpets, which play hymns for the dead cowboys somewhere in the desert between the US and Mexico. The track then delves into a more ritualistic/pagan territory with fierce tribal drumming set to first an acoustic guitar and later to a series of undulating and relaxing electric organ drones (Hammond? Rhodes?) very much in the style of Popol Vuh’s In den Gärten Pharaos. The sound is deeply spiritual and almost New Age-like in style and the comparison of the two Wisconsinites to the work of the German master of atmospheres is more than apt.
The flipside’s “In the Central Loom”, like the previous track, begins with a bassy, cavernous drone, like thunder clouds rolling over a plain. A distant, faint sound of a flute emerges, calling the lost wanderers to the nearest village to find the shelter from the rain and the night. A simple, ululating electric organ melody plays while the wordless choir shapes the walls of the cave, bringing even more Barn Owl to mind. The scattered field recordings and a spacious acoustic guitar add the ritualistic feel to the music, conjuring dreams of might and unknown ancestors and the wildlife so rich before the white man came. The following string suite is a sort of a conclusion, a mourning soundtrack to the death of a million buffalos, who were once roaming the great plains and whose skulls create artificial mountains along the first transcontinental railroads.
Once again, the Brave Mysteries cassette label proves to be one of the masters of atmospheric music, releasing incredibly atmospheric and intricate music by projects like Burial Hex, Kinit Her, or Rain Drinkers. The cassette is stunning in its cinematic power, as if it was trying to be an alternative soundtrack to a Western movie revolving around the plight of Native American under the new white rule or the rituals of Native Americans before the whites came. Aesthetically, Rain Drinkers’ Urthen Web can be placed in the same area as Ajilvsga or Barn Owl, but musically it’s much more – more ornamented, eclectic and evocative. Highly recommended."

- Weed Temple

"Wisconsin duo Joseph Taylor and Zavier Krall have been releasing limited edition albums as Rain Drinkers since 2009. Urthen Web is one of their most recent ones, and their evocative cinematic sounds have found a home on the Brave Mysteries label.

The material on this release sounds slightly lo-fi, which is perhaps why cassette is an appropriate medium for this album. The long “Strange Tapestry” fills the A-side, presenting a unique composition where brass, organ, clean electric guitar, and hand percussion are the dominating instruments. Rain Drinkers operate with a flawless sense of tension building and intensity, which is perhaps why so many other reviewers have made the link between this music and cinema soundtracks. Indeed, the horn/trumpet section at the start of the track does paint a bit of Morriconesque musical picture, though I would say that the band never leans to heavily on any of their influences.

The B-side consists of two related pieces entitled “In the Central Loom”. The first part starts with deep drones, out of which a great organ melody rises. Distant chants and sporadic plucked strings finish off this excellent section. The closing piece is based on gorgeous interleaved waves of lower and higher strings, free-ranging flute, and various effects, resulting in the most freefolk piece on this album. It’s moody, rich, and a great variation added to the end of an already impressive release.

It’s a bit difficult to pigeonhole Rain Drinkers’ music, as there are bits in there of ambient, but with lots of melody, krautrock, the aforementioned cinematic style, and all sorts of stuff. In this case it’s best to let the music just be the music, which is wonderful. Urthen Web is a bit less polished in terms of production than recent CD-R releases like the equally impressive Springtide which was released on Reverb Worship this year, but excellent stuff nonetheless. Another testament to the brilliance currently lurking in the US underground, which is being picked up by excellent labels like these."

-Evening Of Light

"Some of the best accompanying art I’ve seen this year is right on this release. Moody, atmospheric, and very natural. A vague and mysterious look, especially in the frozen winter landscape (know how that is - thanks Cleveland!) and almost old time-y clothing - like if Stranger than Paradise had been shot in the 1800s or something.

Things get started with blasted Western soundscapes on the first half, “Strange Tapestry”, with low, low drones being augmented by a more than ample horn part and some shades of folk-y guitar, almost like Dead Man unplugged. All this before we descend into some light synth/organ drone and minimal hand-driven percussion. Very minimal, sounding like something Popol Vuh might have whipped up right before they descended into total “Neoclassical New Age” crap (so In den Gärten Pharaos). By the time that settles, we’re into some very sparse sounding guitar with light synth. There’s definitely a sense of space that is excellently crafted here, not fleshed out by a massive sound but instead given room through the music’s own minimal characteristics.

The second half, “In the Central Loom”, is full of more low, bass-y drones that give way to more light synths yet again, but instead of just instrumentals, there’s now some long, wordless vocals drifting out there. As the arpeggios make their way and meld into the background, the vocals swell and swell, adding at least one more individual, before making a dramatic drop out. Light touches of bare and darkened folk guitar again give that idea of space uncluttered and unburdened. The music has plenty of room to breathe and sculpt its prevalent mood without throwing track upon track down. Drone-y synth/organ work, alongside more horns, again returns to close out the tape, and it’s nice to see it being used outside of a more cosmic setting and thrown into a broad genre that mainly relies upon moody guitar lines. It flows well with the very natural aura that permeates the release.

Pretty much, these two are making music worth caring about. Urthen Web takes that rugged, drone Western sound and gives it not only a perfect refinement but adds its own twists and turns. They maintain the feeling of soundtrack-esque mood and atmosphere but bring plenty more influences to flesh out an exciting sound beyond rehashing Barn Owl to death (which can still sound great, you know…). Will certainly make an excellent accompaniment to the coming colder weather."

-Slow Swords

"Rain Drinkers are busy this week! Not only do we have this new tape in, there’s a pretty ace CD on Reverb Worship that just dropped too. That one had almost a kinda Godspeedy vibe to it, but this one’s a bit more introspective and measured, I suppose. It has a kinda spaghetti western vibe going on…I guess you might call it “chamber drone” or something if you were desperate to categorise it. These guys expertly create moods and textures that take you to new and unexpected places. It kind of feels like a midpoint between Popol Vuh’s organic and meditative spiritual grooves and the cosmic drift-and-chunter of Expo 70. On the second side it gets quite horror soundtracky, too, with spooky piano arpeggios and high pitched creaks alongside an ominous pulsing bass drone as choral one-note vocals drift in and out. I think I !
can hear trumpets and guitars in the distance in places, there’s some really interesting things going on with the texture in this track. I think these guys would do a great score for a survival game, actually. One of those ones whose objective is to keep you constantly on the verge of shitting yourself. They build tension beautifully; always melodically, but with the focus really being on tones and textures…I wouldn’t exactly call this a drone tape, but it certainly shares a lot in common with the best of the drone crop. Another fine release that probably won’t stick around for long."

- Norman Records

"This is a lovely and mature spooky/mystic kind of tape from the occult themed label Brave Mysteries. Omninous organ, desolate guitar work, bowed strings and dark chanting/moaning. Very organic. This is like some of the more atmospheric parts of some Sun City Girls records, but with none of the humor...or evilness for that matter. It's definitely something a little more than just music though, and it gets to really deep places almost from the get go. What ever portal these guys are trying to open, I think it's safe to enter. I think..."

-Cassette Gods


released June 1, 2011

Joe Taylor, Zavier Krall & the Creative Spirit
Photography and Design by Dani Dahlke
Mastered by Clay Ruby



all rights reserved


Rain Drinkers Madison, Wisconsin

Rain Drinkers music is made with a heady passion that keeps them moving forward, continuously expanding their pallet of sounds and stylistic touchstones. Yet, no matter how adventurous or exciting the musical terrain may be, the listener remains safely strapped in and always guided along by a familiar and benevolent presence. ... more

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