Rolo Tomassi
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Rolo Tomassi

Sheffield, England, United Kingdom | INDIE

Sheffield, England, United Kingdom | INDIE
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"Live Review: Manchester Deaf Institute"

The first of three new songs from soon-to-come second album ‘Cosmology’, ‘Party Wounds’ seems capable of creating the very grinning gashes that its title suggests. So far the signs for the Diplo-produced new record are good – fluttering between metalcore growls and organ-effect synths, there’s little evidence of dancey polish for the sake of it.

‘Abraxas’ is up next, with Eva Spence’s tiny frame projecting the vocal anger of a lioness with nipple-ache, then, in the blink of an eye, the harmonies of a Yorkshire choirgirl. ‘Jealous Bones’ and ‘Beatrotter’ follow, before another new tune, ‘French Motel’. It’s a dramatic situation; in the same two-minute breath gliding from classical undertones to metalcore-fronted thrashtronica. They may have bagged a producer who’s at home remixing Britney and Kanye West, but the commercial aspect of RT’s new songs remain as accidental as the first lot; it’s much-needed futuristic chaos, but not as your local DJ may know it. This is the crux of Rolo Tomassi and also proves how much they’ve grown up in this last year. Their furore may once have been dismissed as impressive-but-simple teenage rebellion, but now they’re really revelling in all their perplexing glory.

The final new song exhibited tonight is ‘Kasia’, which does have a more disco tendency – this is the song you can really dance to. Backstage, pre-gig, Eva downs a shot of Jägermeister and explains how it deals with “the times you’re on tour, when you’re away from the people you love, how it effects those relationships. But they don’t change; good relationships stay the same”. After the head-banging reception given to this newie, the same could perhaps be said for the obvious love the band’s fans hold for them.

With James now stagediving, ‘Scabs’ and ‘Film Noir’ incite final moments of mayhem. Ending with the melting-circuitboard racket of ‘I Love Turbulence’, the quintet depart, Eva thanking everyone for coming and wishing them a good evening in her surprisingly gentle, almost timid speaking voice. But that deal was already sealed.

In 2010, Sheffield’s Rolo Tomassi still have the looks, the talent and that essential ability to ravage a live audience. As performers, their confidence is comfortable and ever-growing, and their determination to produce music that holds as much confusion as meaning remains solid; it would be foolish to underestimate what this band will deliver next.
- NME


"Cosmology Review: A band at the top of their game..."

Rating: 9
When Rolo’s debut ‘Hysterics’ finally pushed them beyond the boundaries of those who’d been in the know for the first three years of their career, the brashness and pure frenzy of their attack was seen as their primary weapon. It was, in fact, hysterical – lashing out in all directions and barely pausing for breath. However, with ‘Cosmology’ Rolo Tomassi have created something so rounded that their success can no longer be attributed to the mere excitement of youth, because it annihilates any criticism that they’re just being intentionally obtuse.
Even though they’re still head and shoulders above most hardcore bands – ‘House House Casanova’ and ‘French Motel’ are classic exercises in misdirection and barbed violence – it’s when they meddle with the sweet and seductive that their true power becomes evident. Eva Spence has always been renowned for her vocal prowess as a screamer, but behind that horrific growl lies a softly charming voice that makes ‘Kasia’ and the title track swoon. This, right here, is the sound of a band at the top of their game. At the top of their game for now, that is. It’s a staggering achievement and, in an ideal world, will inspire thousands of young hands to pick up instruments and start making music of their own. - Rocksound


"Cosmology Review: 4K's"

"Steel City misfits look to stars on epic second album"

Since they exploded onto the scene in a blaze of youthful in 2005, Sheffield five-piece Rolo Tomassi have managed to ake a name for themselves without ever properly fitting in. Cranium-shaking heaviness, migraine inducing time signatures, weirdo synth freak outs and frontwoman Eva Spence's Jekyll and Hyde vocals made them a band entirely unlike any other, and earned them the thumbs up and support slots from The Bronx, Gallows and Biffy Clyro. They set the bar high on 2008's 4K-rated Hysterics debut album but, on Cosmology, they've created something truly impressive.

Dealing with matters of the universe, its fitting that the music sounds like its been sent from a distinctly unearthly plane. More conventional, 'normal' moments anchor it in the real world but the prevailing feeling throughout - like on The Dillinger Escape Plan-styled technicality of Agamemnon, or when Party Wounds shrieks, grooves and freaks like an even more beserk take on The Blood Brothers - is of a band operating within their own sonic civilisation, exploring and creating with free, easy abandon.

That the music doesn't always sound 'right' only adds to the thrill. Half a minute into the maelstrom of French Motel, for example, there's a jarring breakdown of stabbing guitars colliding with wonky keyboards that sound like they're tumbling down a staircase. It might not be pretty but it is effective, and there are similar moments all over the record. It makes everything slightly off-kilter and delightfully left field, but its an integral part of the album and this bands unique charm.

More than an exercise in wilful peculiarity, though, Cosmology is built on contrasts, most notably the struggle between beauty and grotesqueness, between aggression and sensuality. Its a delicious friction rendered perfectly on monolithic centerpiece, Kasia. A delicate, swirling lullaby eases things along before chugging riffs, razor-throated barking and Eva's sweet, spectral croon ushers in a blistering crescendo and throws everything off balance.

As with all things this band do, Cosmology is a little weird and not always pleasant but there is a special something here that makes it work. Those who didn't 'get' them before will surely scratch their heads yet again but for those already tuned into their bizarre frequency, this is a record that sees Rolo Tomassi fully taking hold of their artistic license and creating something brilliant with it. - Kerrang


Discography

Demos

2005 3 Track Demo
Label: Mayday!
2006 4 Track Cassette
Label: danger!laser!phaser!razor!

Studio albums

2008 Hysterics
Released: 22 September 2008
Label: Hassle Records
2010 Cosmology
Released: 24 May 2010
Label: Hassle Records

EPs/Singles
2006 Rolo Tomassi EP
Label: Holy Roar, danger!laser!phaser!razor!
2006 Rolo Tomassi / Mirror! Mirror! Split
Label: Speedowax
2007 Rolo Tomassi / Cutting Pink With Knives Split
Label: Yehonala Recordings
2008 Digital History / Beatrotter
Label: Holy Roar
2009 Shred Yr Face Vol. 2
Label: Wichita Records, Matador Records, Hassle Records, Coalition Records
Rolo Tomassi / Cancer Bats Split
Released: 27 April 2009
Label: Hassle Records
Rolo Tomassi / Throats Split
Released: 3 August 2009
Label: Hassle Records, Holy Roar

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Bio

Cosmology is the study of our universe – how it was born, where it’s going and where it has been, as well as what it looks like from the outside. ‘Cosmology’, the second album by Rolo Tomassi, is basically that, but much, much noisier.

The band recently celebrated an anniversary – raise your glasses to five years of sonic terrorism, people – but Rolo Tomassi have never taken more time than is necessary to congratulate themselves for achievements passed and battles won. What they are presenting to the world isn’t a summary of what has gone before, tempered with the advice of cowards, but a focused blast of artistic fury that could only have been created by Eva Spence, Ed Dutton, James Spence, Joe Thorpe and Joe Nicholson.

Rolo’s roots might lie in a network of small villages around Sheffield but ‘Cosmology’, their terrifyingly exciting new album, was birthed in Los Angeles via Texas. Recording with the legendary Diplo, a man best known for his hook-ups with Britney Spears and MIA, may be a far cry from their past spent decimating underage clubs, but as a musical step forward it’s entirely logical.

After forming in 2005 the quintet soon recorded their first demo, which immediately found its way into the hands of promoters both Sheffield-based and further afield. The only logical step the band could take was to book their own tours around the country (GCSE and A-Level exam schedules permitting, of course), fuelled by more self-released EPs and culminating in the ‘Rolo Tomassi’ EP on Holy Roar after a chance meeting at a gig in someone’s living room. In September 2008 they signed with Hassle to unleash ‘Hysterics’: support tours became headline slots, and after precocious outings with the likes of 65daysofstatic, Foals and The Bronx, a fateful appearance at SXSW in Texas and several major festival appearances across mainland Europe they started work on album two.

“‘Hysterics’ was basically chaos,” says James. “We weren’t really sure what we were going to come out of the studio with, but we’re all proud of that album.” As they should be – garnering attention from mainstream press worldwide thanks to the fact it sounded like nothing anyone had ever heard before, ‘Hysterics’ eventually found its way into Diplo’s life. He cited Rolo as an obscure band who should be more popular in an interview with Pitchfork in February 2009, and the DJ subsequently watched them play a month later at South By Southwest. Not long after, Diplo DJed in James’ hometown of Nottingham; James and Ed met him for breakfast the day after and had a chat. A few months later the band were recording ‘Cosmology’ in Los Angeles under Diplo’s auspices.

“A lot of people seem to assume with Diplo as a producer we'll be coming back with a dubstep hardcore record but his role as a producer wasn't to change the way we sound or to alter the direction of the band” says James, “he presented an environment that we could relax in and brought in amazing people to help record the album.” The LA sessions were the longest the band had ever spent in one place together, and it shows: ‘Cosmology’ is confident and controlled where its predecessor lashed out indiscriminately.

“In retrospect, with 'Hysterics' I feel we were fairly modest when discussing but with 'Cosmology’ we're openly proud of the record we've made,” asserts James. “We set out to write songs that were more fun for us to play live. The songs are far more structured and to a degree, more accessible." He’s speaking relatively, of course. None of Rolo’s inherent power to shock has been lost, but threaded throughout the album is a coherence that will surprise everyone, and not just long-time Rolo devotees. Every speck of intimate strangeness is intentional, from Eva’s vocals being more distinct to melodic but worrying curveballs like ‘Kasia’ and the title track (listen to them, now), and ‘Cosmology’, as a whole, is a staggering achievement from a band with no boundaries.

“We’ve never done anything that sounds like this before,” muses Eva, “but it still sounds like us.” We’ve all heard that one before. But it’s never been quite as true as it is now.