Danish quintet Rainbrother might be best known to American audiences as one of the SXSW acts affected by tightened immigration rules in the wake of Donald Trump’s rise to power. In the weeks leading to SXSW 2017, headlines arose about artists struggling to enter the US due to Trump’s still-controversial immigration ban; Rainbrother’s frontman, Bjarke Bendtsen, wasn’t allowed into the country at all. That didn’t stop the band from putting on a remarkable show: Bendtsen was projected behind the band during one of its sets.
This solution to a rather unique (and problematic) situation was nothing if not psychedelic: a person in a room without actually being in a room, an experience that could make an audience question reality if there ever was one. Psychedelia is nothing new to Rainbrother: “The Master,” the first track released from the band’s upcoming album Island, out March 29, is a reminder that the Danish quintet’s precise charm is how convincingly it makes previously established psychedelic tropes sound futuristic and engaging.
“The Master” begins unimposingly, with merely the mild cooing of guitars and the whispered pitter-patter of percussion outlining its form. Eerie synths suspend themselves in air thereafter, leading to the first appearance of Bendtsen’s singing. His voice is mixed in such a way that it seems to drift in and out of the instruments around it; these instruments eventually expand to include thickly overdriven layers of guitar that would feel just as home in a modern blues act’s repertoire.
Save a pause that acts as a gasp for fresh air a full five minutes into this nearly seven-minute odyssey, these guitar layers become the focus of “The Master” during its back half. They threaten to overcome Berndsten’s high-pitched, wincing voice, although they never quite do; this is, after all, the work of a man who didn’t let an ocean of separation hinder him from commanding a room. Nothing can stop him, not even Trump.