Rhye, the project of Toronto-born, Los Angeles-based musician Michael Milosh, announces his new album, Home, out January 22 on Last Gang Records in Canada, and shares the album’s lead single/video, Black Rain. Following 2018’s JUNO-nominated Blood, Home is centered around the idea of home as the core of creativity and community. It’s familiar in its synthesis of propulsive beats, orchestral flourishes, piano ruminations and sultry, gender-nonconforming vocals, but never have they sounded more cohesive or alive.
A skittering movement within Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade served as inspiration for Black Rain is almost ballet-esque and very Russian-sounding string arrangements and to imbue the song with a classic rock quality, he tracked the drums with a ’50s era three-piece Ludwig kit. “It has this 80s version of disco, like the way Quincy Jones was interpreting disco,” Milosh explains. The song is presented via a dance interpretation by the actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Tenet, Kickass), directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson.
Since the release of Rhye’s 2013 debut Woman, Milosh mostly lived on the road, playing up to one hundred shows a year and decamping in Toronto, Montreal, Thailand, the Netherlands, Germany and Los Angeles. On the heels of some major life changes, including a new relationship with Genevieve Medow-Jenkins, he yearned for a more permanent space, a balm for the restless spirit and a place to simply be.
Over the last two years, Milosh and Medow-Jenkins have produced a series of live events called Secular Sabbath, centered on consciousness-raising ambient music, meditation, massage and community, recently broadcast from their actual home throughout the pandemic. Acting as a space for Milosh’s improvisational experimentation with voice and sound, Secular Sabbath in turn inspired much of the work on this new record, creating a fluid correlation between music and home.
Written throughout 2019 and early 2020, Home was recorded at United Recording Studios, Revival at The Complex (Earth, Wind, & Fire), as well as Milosh’s home studio, and mixed by Alan Moulder (Nine Inch Nails, Interpol, My Bloody Valentine).
Milosh is a gear head with a carefully-curated arsenal of toys and sonic references. He’s honed his musical ideas and principles since childhood, when he studied cello under his father. “My dad, a really sweet, gentle and inclusive guy, was into this idea of feeling something through playing just one note without a melody, that exchange of energy. We would talk about how music doesn’t mean anything if you can’t make the listener feel it.” Thus, every element of Home is intentional and meant to reverberate on a higher extra-sensory plane. This attention to detail is prominent throughout the new single, Black Rain.
Previous single, Helpless, relays love in its most intimate and romantic form over slinky R&B pulses, while My Heart Bleeds, the last song written for the album, speaks to the collective pain of 2020, insisting “we’re not enemies” and “we’ve got to feel some change” over ruminative, gentle disco and open-hearted singing.
The album is bookended by celestial cantos sung by theDanish National Girls’ Choir, who Rhye performed with at a landmark concert in Denmark in 2017. The choir flew to LA to record with him for one day. It’s reflective of Milosh’s own experiences singing in choir as a boy, his entry point to the path that has informed his distinctive vocals. “I’m always trying to always accomplish musical goals that are connected to the way I listened to and interact with music as a child,” Milosh says. The sentiment also underscores a broader, less obvious, but no less important theme echoed through his new record: No matter where life takes us, we can always go home.