Peering out from behind his custom Venom mask, Italy’s enigmatic Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo has spent the last seven years creating a dirty, streetwise edge for his Bloody Beetroots project. Despite his production’s punk rock influence and the scummy imagery of his album covers, Rifo is one of electronic music’s savviest businessmen. This paradox is evident on BBR’s new 15-track effort, Hide. Featuring no fewer than 10 musical luminaries, this album doesn’t hide within the depths of the EDM underground. Instead, it breaks barriers between electronic subgenres and rock radio.
A classically trained musician, Rifo’s organ and guitar interplay has always been leagues above contemporary electro-house producers, and while this skillset is showcased on the operatic “The Furious” (which features anarchist punk Penny Rimbaud), the extended synth solos that lined the middle of The Bloody Beetroots’ debut LP, Romborama, have been contoured to harmonize with the endeavors of the album’s many collaborators. Rifo’s post-rock guitar arrangements that fuel arena-sized singalong “Out of Sight” (featuring Paul McCartney and Youth). The Theophilus London collaboration “All the Girls (Around the World)” and the R&B-influenced “Glow in the Dark” (with Sam Sparro) are also vast departures from the angst of the Bloody Beetroots live experience, further differentiating Rifo from his cookie-cutter electro-house peers.
Despite varying aesthetics, instrumental cues help establish continuity. “The Source (Chaos and Confusion)” has all the saw-jaw energy of 2010’s standout single “Warp 1.9”, but instead of launching the track with blistering synth clashes, a bluesy guitar solo intros the track and ties it back to early Hide cuts. For longtime Beetroots fans that are worried about Rifo’s attention spent on non-dance floor hysteria, “SPANK” (with TAI and Bart B More), “Runaway”, and the lyrically playful, disco-leaning “Raw” (assisted by Tommy Lee) are sure to add a new intensity to live sets.
The intentions of Hide seemingly go beyond merely selling albums and mobilizing Rifo’s devout base; it’s a new sonic business card for artists looking to update their sound. And if it takes four more years for another BBR full-length, a string of Rifo-featured production credits will do in the interim.
Essential Tracks: “Out Of Sight”, “SPANK”, and “The Source”