Rhye's single "Open" was released online last February with little information beyond a gray scale image of a nude torso that, like the ensuing music video's shots of mid-coital couples, only matched the song's unabashed lurve: lyrics like "I'm a fool for your belly" gently sung to a six-chord organ riff and soft percussive snaps.
When two musicians emerged, Rhye's former anonymity seemed less like a marketing ploy and more like a necessary tactic to distinguish themselves from their previous projects: Robin Hannibal's Quadron and Mike Milosh's Milosh. (They still declined to reveal their faces for this story.) Both were signed to electro label Plug Research when what was supposed to be a one-off remix at Hannibal's Copenhagen studio led to a full-length album, Woman, recorded at his pad in Los Angeles. Milosh was already flying to California from Berlin to visit his now-wife, actress Alexa Nikolas, who inspired the album's final track, on which Milosh repeats the album's title for almost three minutes. "It's dangerous writing about personal things," he says, "because it opens you up to criticism."
You could say that Rhye combines Quadron's earthy R&B with Milosh's airy electronica, but the result is both simpler and more complex. As Milosh says, "There's something minimal about it. The beats are very 'boom, clink.' The song structures are very simple chord progressions. We just put a lot of layers on it."
In addition to drum machines, synths and Milosh's vaguely effeminate voice, Woman makes use of live strings, horns and bass guitar. Milosh calls it "'electronic' in the way I define 'electronic.'" When Rhye goes on tour, the computers -- and Hannibal -- will stay in the studio. The stripped-down band will consist of Milosh plus three hired musicians. Milosh says, "We're going to try to not play really loud bars where people are just drinking, like a pickup scene."
Woman will be available March 5th on Loma Vista.