“No chants,” the title of the fierce and propulsive fifth observe on Joe Rainey’s debut album Niineta, carries a double which means. On one hand, it may be interpreted as a defensive posture, taken on behalf of pow wow singers like him in opposition to any outsider who would possibly paint their musical custom as simplistic by labeling it “chanting” versus singing. However the phrase additionally has a extra playful origin—adopted as a homonym, Rainey has mentioned, for the catchphrase and theme music of Vince McMahon, the love-to-hate-him chief govt of World Wrestling Leisure: no likelihood. As in, you’ve received no likelihood in hell.
The double entendre is emblematic of Rainey’s sensibility: a member of the Crimson Lake Ojibwe individuals raised not on the Crimson Lake Reservation however 270 miles south, in Minneapolis, whose upbringing concerned Ojibwe tradition and professional wrestling each, and whose musical resume up to now contains stints in a number of celebrated pow wow ensembles—often called drums, a time period that for the Ojibwe refers back to the percussion instrument in addition to the teams of singers who congregate round it—and visitor spots on albums by Likelihood the Rapper and Bon Iver. Niineta is without delay rooted in custom and deeply idiosyncratic, fusing pow wow melodies with the timbres and rhythms of the Twenty first-century metropolis: techno, industrial, hip-hop, dub, noise.
Listeners unfamiliar with pow wow may do worse for a place to begin than Rainey’s personal SoundCloud web page, the place he hosts the sphere recordings he has been making of intertribal competitions and different performances since he was eight years previous. Even with out the avant-garde accouterments of Niineta, it’s arresting, unruly music. Accompanied solely by one another and the insistent beating of the drum, singers weave wordlessly out and in of unison and counterpoint, typically ecstatic, typically baleful, conveying the which means of a given music—which can contain honoring deceased relations, celebrating tribal pleasure, or just encouraging bystanders to bop—with out verbal language. The emphasis on motion, and the regular rhythmic pulse, make pow wow a surprisingly pure match for integration with the membership, as Rainey and producer Andrew Broder display on Niineta, turning the pounding of a rawhide drum head into an unrelenting four-on-the-floor throb.
Rainey’s remarkably versatile voice sits at Niineta’s heart, alternately consoling and foreboding, typically deep and gravelly and others excessive and androgynous. Backed by ascending strings on “b.e. son,” he sounds sturdy however weary, like he’s encouraging comrades within the midst of battle. On the finish of “straightforward on the cide,” he breaks from a croon right into a yelp, sounding, for a second, somewhat like Younger Thug. Broder’s manufacturing, punctuating magisterial instrumental preparations with explosive digital distortion, remembers latest albums by Bon Iver and Low—one other star in Rainey’s midwestern constellation of previous collaborators—in addition to Kanye West’s Yeezus. Like these artists, Rainey and Broder haven’t any fealty to any specific recording constancy, freely mixing the hiss and grain of iPhone voice memos with the blistering excessive definition of latest digital music, treating the seize of the sound itself as yet another malleable and expressive aspect of their work.