Okay, well not exactly “new.” The band is still broken up, so they’re not producing any new material. Not to worry, though, because Green Sprout* extraordinaire Darin Cappe has been working on a project – a mega-project, actually – to celebrate the upcoming one-year anniversary (on March 30th) of The Last Whale, the final Rheostatics concert. I don’t know Darin personally, just via his intermittent postings to the Yahoo! mailing list dedicated to the Rheostatics and through his site dedicated to the band; He must be quite a fan, though, because he’s pored through hours and hours of recorded material in an effort to put together a “box set” of CDs functioning as a retrospective look at the Rheos’ career. The Rheos were one of those (all too rare) bands that didn’t mind if you recorded their live shows, and there was a pretty active sharing/trading market among the many Sprouts, so Darin’s task was an enormous one encompassing perhaps hundreds of hours of recorded material of varying quality.
Anyway, Darin has released the most recent volume of the project he’s calling Static Journey (he’s up to Disc 4 of a 9 CD set) here. Volumes 1, 2 and 3 can be found here, here and here. The price is certainly within the range of affordability – all downloads are free of charge.
If you’re not already a fan of the band, some of the material included in Darin’s retrospective may be a bit inaccessible. That is not intended to be a criticism of Darin’s work. A set like this is by its very nature of primary interest to serious fans of the band – how many casual Beatles fans do you know who own all the Anthology discs? If you’re not a fan and are wondering what the attraction is, you might try watching the Shaved Head video below. Shaved Head is a track from 1992’s Whale Music, the album generally considered to be the band’s finest work. Interestingly, the video for the song – including the audio track – was recorded live off the floor in the sound room at Reaction Studios in 1994. The decision to record the audio for this vid live speaks to the musical ethos of the band: exploratory, honest, and dedicated to improvisation and musicianship. When my band was recording at Reaction Studios later that summer, we were thrilled to be working in the very room where this video was made. We watched it over and over again on the TV in the green room down the hall from the studio. The song is (I believe) about the struggles of a friend suffering from cancer.
* Fans of the Rheostatics self-identify as Green Sprouts, from the “Green Sprouts Music Club” which was (and I suppose still is) the band’s official fan club.