By: Forrest Cook
It’s not everyday you come across a group whose name inspires you take a step back and think about all the mistakes you’ve ever made – toppled relationships, bad ideas wrought through fruition, and neglecting friends advice to steer clear and instead enjoy a comfortable evening of self-care at home alone in your favorite easy chair. Oh, if only you’d paid attention! Itchy Ritchie and The Burnin’ Sensations sparks just that image. So, take a step back and enjoy it for a second. That’s how you name a fucking band!
IRatBS is the brainchild of Fort Worth musician Richard Keller who launched the project way back in 2010 with a backing band and played locally for a couple of years before it fizzled out to make way for Keller’s other projects. In 2019, with those projects running their course, Keller resumed the mantle of Itchy Ritchie and embarked to bring his Burning Sensation into 2020.
Today all instruments are manned by Richie himself, drawing from an array of influences including The Cure, Beastie Boys, and White Stripes. Those influences entangle subtly with Richie’s own vorticose abstraction, and what you get is an original and obscure blend of R & B, jazz and darkwave synth pop.
Low, Slow and Dark was released on December 6, 2019 with the only ulterior credit on the album going to Mark Rinewalt for his contributions to mixing and mastering. It represents a captivating performance on all levels exhibiting a personal appeal which will draw listeners into depths of sorrowful mourning. “Thoughts blown unrelenting in time with the old wine. Digging deeper, a cut that has not healed once since the day it was made.” (lyrics from “Dirge in the Dark”)
With a synopsis of exploring “the realities of modern life through the pulsing synths, sizzling guitars and forlorn lyrics” the new EP plays almost like the regretful memoirs of a stumped P.I. pouring over a black box recorder smoking cigarettes and drinking whiskey as he relays the case of lost love from which he was only too lucky to have escaped with his own life. One gets the impression that the making of Low, Slow, and Dark was therapeutic for Keller, providing intimate relatable to songs the genre of which can be easily overdone, but this slowed reverence never loses its interesting points, amended at times by bluesy requiems while maintaining a lo-fi electro death vibe prominent in bands like Christian Death and Suicide.
This could all be due to the recent loss of one of Richie’s friends. From now through February 14, $1 from each EP sale will go to Foundation 45, a non-profit DFW based charitable organization composed of musicians and other creative types looking to help those struggling with and those affected by mental illness, suicidal thoughts, drug addiction, depression, and anxiety in order to honor Richie’s fallen comrade.
As the title suggests Low, Slow, and Dark consists of four crestfallen hymns beginning in “Isolation” and ending in final relinquishment with “Irish Goodbye” – a ballad of despair signifying the remnants of a door closed to the outside world. “You didn’t have to go like that,” Keller insists on the finale. “You never said goodbye. Questions with no answers. A lock without a key.”
If it’s dreary beginnings in 2020, it’s not without its homages to those cherished in the past. Kiss your loved ones on the cheek and hold them dear, quick readers, and if you’re susceptible to the dreary oscillations of life and death, and find you’re looking for a local act whose incantations speak similarly to Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds then look no further than Itchy Ritchie and The Burnin’ Sensations. The new album Low, Slow, and Dark is streamin’ on bandcamp.com and available to download for $3.