Rayning - "Self-Titled"

Rayning - Rayning
(Hacktivism 2014)

It's no coincidence that cover art that adorns Rayning's cassette debut closely resembles that of the Cocteau Twins' Heaven or Las Vegas. The Michigan-based solo project, fronted by Gerald Mckay, has nearly matched the alchemical blend of  ephemeral effects that compose the Twins' mythical dream-pop guitar tone. Like any good shoegazer, McKay finds a balance between noise and delicate beauty. His self-titled album opens with "We Are", which pits a gritty, lo-fi drum loop against an endless wave of guitar noise. Surprisingly, this abrasive combination, the lumbering percussion buried beneath layers of gnarled static, does not only sound pretty; it feels wispy and light. It encloses the listener's in its own atmosphere of noise, distortion and reverb, the heavy air swirling and undulating, never ceasing in its movement. McKay's distant vocals are delivered in a laid-back, almost absently, in a way that gives his music a Slowdive-ian timbre. "Necklace" and "If Only" two welcome outliers that appear on the release, more forceful, yet somehow more twee in nature than the songs they compliment. Rayning is an impressive debut that serves as a reminder that great shoegaze music is still being made in the 21st century.