And thus another cyclotronic headfuck is born. Joe Mabel

Rangda the band threatens to usurp Rangda the Balinese demon for search-engine supremacy, thanks to the magnificent firepower of three vastly respected, veteran underground musicians: Sir Richard Bishop, Ben "Six Organs of Admittance" Chasny, and Chris Corsano. A power-trio-supergroup of sorts (though they strenuously deny it), Rangda arose from Chasny's desire to start a band with two of his favorite musicians (Corsano guested on Six Organs' 2005 album School of the Flower). Finding openings in all three artists' hectic schedules proved daunting, but they finally convened in Scott Colburn's local Gravelvoice Studio and laid down the six tracks of their debut album, False Flag, in a brief burst of spontaneous creativity. Drag City released the LP last month.

While perhaps not as fearsome as their evil, child-chomping witch namesake, Rangda rustle up some wickedly extreme sounds on the six improv-noise blowouts and psychedelic reveries woven into False Flag, many of which could curdle your marrow if you're not careful. Proceed with $150 earplugs.

Sir Richard Bishop: Meanwhile, His Guitar Violently Bleeds

Rangda's elder statesman, Bishop accrued fame and something less than fortune as the polymathematical guitarist with Seattle underground-music subversives Sun City Girls. Reams of hyperbolic prose exist online and in moldering fanzines about the baffling wonders and cryptic high jinks of that defunct trio (RIP, Charles Gocher); some of it's even coherent and accurate. Over the last 30 years in SCG and as a solo artist, Bishop (now living in Oakland) has established himself as one of the world's foremost guitarists in numerous idioms, including psych rock, post–John Fahey folk, raga, Gypsy, traditional Middle Eastern, surf rock, kitsch chart fodder, and the soundtrack styles of Ennio Morricone and Alejandro Jodorowsky. Bishop's lightning-­quick dexterity, stylistic diversity, and soulfulness imbue his every release, but with Rangda he unveils a more explosive side to his playing. Just try not to throw devil horns during False Flag's most heated passages.

His role in Rangda:

"My primary responsibilities include making sure that the Rangda 'stick' is always in the right hands and to continuously monitor the levels of output in order to keep everything in check so that there is never too much 'molten fret-wankery.'"

What he hopes to accomplish in Rangda that he couldn't achieve with his main project:

"There was nothing particular I was hoping to achieve here. I just knew it would be the right combination for many possibilities. Rangda is now my main project."

How he feels about people calling Rangda a "power trio" or "supergroup":

"There's nothing we can do about it. Seems a bit much to me, but people will say whatever they want. At least they don't call us Supertramp. Bloody well right!"
Ben Chasny: Through the Pastoral, Darkly

The prime mover of Six Organs of Admittance and Ethan Miller's right-hand ax man in Comets on Fire, the Seattle-based Chasny has carved out a beautifully curvaceous oeuvre of pastoral folk and stormy psychedelia over the past 14 years. Playing yin to Bishop's yang in Rangda, Chasny mostly provides a verdant foundation over which his fellow six-stringer can mystically torch the sky; at times, though, he matches Sir Rick, strafing riff for strafing riff. Chasny is the calm amid the storm, the eye of the hurricane, the teeth of the hydra. Wait, what were we talking about?

His role in Rangda:

"What I want to do in Rangda is pretty much play guitar—and just listen as much as play."

What he hopes to accomplish in Rangda that he couldn't achieve with his main project:

"It is really wide open, so I'm excited to have no limitations."

How he feels about people calling Rangda a "power trio" or "supergroup":

"It makes me think that people have really lowered their standards!"
Chris Corsano: Sticking It to You, Very Strangely

This Massachusetts-based percussionist has become the Bernard Purdie of avant-garde/improv/experimental music (i.e., Corsano is the dude all the top cats call first when they need the most inventive stickwork done). Known for his versatility and predilection for unconventional methods and tonalities, Corsano recently tasted the big time by touring with Björk and contributing to her Volta album. However, he's much more at home with musicians who make less money in their lifetimes than the Icelandic singer earns in a month. Corsano's list of cohorts is long and legendary; he's slapped skins and bowed cymbals—and has done other things they don't teach you at Juilliard—for Paul Flaherty, Wally Shoup, Jandek, Mick Flower, Nels Cline, Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore, Vibracathedral Orchestra, Jim O'Rourke, and others.

His role in Rangda:

"It shifts from song to song. Sometimes I'm playing under those guys as the rhythm section, sometimes I'm trying to cover a little bit of low-end territory, too, since we don't have a bassist. Sometimes it's the three of us going full bore in three different directions. It all depends on what the song needs at that moment."

What he hopes to accomplish in Rangda that he couldn't achieve with his main project:

"Nothing, really. Other than being in a band with Rick and Ben, since I thought the combination might prove interesting. I'd say any expectations/intentions I had for the music going into that first weekend we played together were quickly put aside in favor of letting the group turn into whatever it wanted to."

How he feels about people calling Rangda a "power trio" or "supergroup":

"It's not like we're playing Madison Square Garden or anything, so 'supergroup' sounds pretty exaggerated. The band definitely was not put together with that kind of inflated-ego action in mind. And if I'm going to be totally blunt, I think more people would have to know who I was for Rangda to qualify as a supergroup. Personally, I like to think of Rangda as me riding Rick and Ben's coattails more than a supergroup."
False Flag: Veterans of Disorder Get It Together

False Flag is, sometimes literally, a hell of a listen. "Waldorf Hysteria" ignites the record with a conflagration of free-rock chaos, its noisy guitars splintering and shuddering with cathartic intensity, offering a scalding two-minute shower for the brain. In the ominous "Bull Lore," a rococo, frazzled Bishop solo madly spirals over Corsano's rampant paradiddles and methodical funk foundation and against Chasny's contemplative, pastoral tolling. The song accrues a kind of boiling pressure that feels very apt for 2010. Similarly, the arcs of guitar feedback in "Fist Family" herald something fiercely threatening. The track gradually intensifies into a cyclotronic headfuck, with Corsano whirlwinding around his kit with ridiculous swiftness and the axmen summoning Emergency Alert System sirens. This chi-draining riot will sate adrenaline junkies—maybe once and for all.

"Sarcophagi" brings the first respite from Flag's maleficent madness: A spangly meditation with subtle brushed-cymbal work, it recalls the skeletal, heart-wrenching blues of Loren MazzaCane Connors. The aptly titled "Serrated Edges" is a staccato rampage for the ages, guitars rasping and rippling in feral tongues. The album peaks on "Plain of Jars," a tranquil 15-minute psychedelic sojourn and a majestic jewel of a composition that puts the "acid" into placid. Guitars gleam and ascend double-helix-like as if they're some Platonic ideal of San Francisco summer circa 1967 or Lou Reed and Sterling Morrison at their least uptight and most expansive. About nine minutes in, the guitar and drums gather and rumble into a false climax; it resumes and ascends to even higher levels of florid beauty and complexity. "Plain of Jars" is, unquestionably, the best song ever about Laos's megalithic landscape.

An auspicious debut, False Flag is full of sonic adventure that will inspire true heads to salute. "We're already thinking of stuff for the next proper album," Corsano says. "Like it or not, we are here to stay." recommended