LOST BAYOU RAMBLERS
Rodents of Unusual Size
[Music from the motion picture: OST]
(2019 - self release - USA)
A curious and revealing example of the interconnection of folk music around the world plus more, is this eclectic and particular release that is the soundtrack to a documentary titled 'Rodents of Unusual Size'. It is an odd recording even for this progressive Cajun roots band from Broussard, Louisiana, called Lost Bayou Ramblers. In fact, my attention was instantly drawn and engulfed by the random viewing of this film, which took me on a journey to find out about this band and their music. I tracked down this specific album first, due to the fact that I could not believe the styles of music that I was hearing from a Cajun band. The beginning of the soundtrack brought back memories of the eerie music of the OST of one famous film called 'Fargo', that I always had associated with Nordic folk, with this haunting and lonely sound, yet so penetrating and chilling. Knowing the French input of the Cajun and Creole genre, I also heard the heavy influences therein. The other surprises were still to come past the halfway mark on the disc.
Lost Bayou Ramblers was founded by brothers Louis and Andre Michot in 1999. To give you an idea of how different this Cajun band is, they have toured with Arcade Fire and the Violent Femmes.
In the past, Louis has traveled around the French regions of Canada leaning the language and music before starting the band, and since written some experimental ambient music.The band has always been a progressive Cajun band with an open end for other styles and sounds. I was in love from the moment I heard this soundtrack for a film that was all about a large rat-like rodent (typical size is 20 pounds) called a nutria. After the disastrous hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana, the nutria not only survived in massive numbers, but began to destroy the ecosystem in such ways as increasing erosion on the coastline, and with more residents leaving the area, the homeland is also becoming a no man's land. The few who stand and fight for their property, are documented in this interesting and unforgettable film. But the music is the focus with this review. That left an impression on this writer.
Twenty-Two songs make up this project. Most of the tunes were written by member Louis Michot, and some by his brother Andre. The credits consists of : Accordion, Lap Steel Guitar – Andre Michot/ Fiddle, Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Percussion, Bass, Synth, Vocals – Louis Michot/ Drums, Percussion – Kirkland Middleton/ Electric Bass, Double Bass [Upright Bass], Acoustic Guitar, Drums [Drum Pad] – Bryan Webre/ Electric Guitar, Pedal Steel Guitar – Jonny Campos/ Guests are: Double Bass [Upright Bass] – Ryan Guillory (tracks: 12)/ Trumpet – Josh Leblanc (tracks: 10, 11) plus Engineer [Additional Engineering] – Mark Bingham, Tony Daigle/ Engineer, Mixed By – Kirkland Middleton. The music stretches further than ever before from the band's already varied repertoire. It is truly my favorite kind of album, one loaded with surprise and ambient, swift changes, big chances, and a lot of music for the money.
The members of the band are quite accomplished musicians in their own right, and the material keeps the listener glued to the moment. The ancient cajun music brought into the mix, is what gives Lost Bayou Ramblers the charm and unique sound. That connection to other folk from around different parts of the globe still peeks my interest. I have heard similar junctures of Appalachian with Scottish and Irish folk styles, as well as other Celtic music from across the planet, but this is the first I have heard (my palette has been recently been expanded) the Scandinavian distinctions that infuse this Cajun roots music. While haunting much of the time, the soundtrack has moments of celebration and breaks free of the more sombre atmosphere. Each song is short, yet gives enough time to absorb and enjoy. Some compositions toward the end are pure foot stomping Cajun and as mentioned, there are some real curveballs thrown in, which I will leave for the reader to discover for themselves. In short, 'Rodents of Unusual Size' is a feast of beautiful melancholy and excitement that will take you on a brand new journey. It may suck you into the Cajun world even if you had have no interest in it before. RECOMMENDED.