Rhye’s not so subtle quest to hide behind the veil of artistic obscurity has proven worth the frustration with their debut collaboration Woman. In fact, the pair has made a note of maintaining their secrecy by concealing their image (not even appearing in their own videos) to let their music remain the focal point. Though now revealed to be singer/producer Mike Milosh and Robin Hannibal, producer and ½ of the Danish electro-soul duo Quadron, when the duo’s first single “Open” hit the web months ago, we were left flirting with the possibility that the artist behind the provocatively effeminate vocals was either a Sade reincarnate or, the less likely, not a woman at all.
The aptly named title is not a cruel play on the notion that most listeners were expecting Milosh to be a chick. It is rather, a manifestation of what becomes of overt anonymity masked by sensuality —an alluring exploration of feeling and of music’s most overly exploited form of pleasure (no, not popping Molly’s) in the least banal way.
Rhye inevitably leaves much to the imagination, since you don’t have an overabundance of music videos and artist promo to make up your mind. This makes Woman an experience. Strings and faint saxophone arrangements embellish Milosh’s breathy voice, which serves as the journey’s path. The album is remarkably honest and seems to serve as a confession to a slight sex addiction, but in the most enticing way—it’s intimate without the lewd, sexy without the salacious and provocative without the crass.
Each of Woman’s 10 songs are relatively unblemished with each serving as a preface to the next, creating a nearly perfect body of work with Milosh’s silky smooth voice with the occasional crackle of raw feeling taking the forefront. On “Verse” he moans, “Ooh my song says it all/do you hear it in the verse, hear it in the verse/oh I’ll call when you see it on my face, see it on my face.” Simple lines like this are so forward, yet simultaneously, somehow saturated with depth and make each song inescapably captivating.
Indeed, the underlying element that really does this album in is the songwriting. It’s so audaciously simple, yet the delicate production dares you to really listen. The separation between instrumentals and vocals allows the listener a breath of fresh air to experience the voice and the lyrics.
Rhye may already be sick of the Sade comparisons, but on songs like “Shed Some Blood” you can’t help but hear the influence (the similarities don’t cheapen the group, but rather, give listeners a glimpse back into the past of a rare requited love circa the “Kiss of Life” era). But what’s special about this project is that what you don’t feel, you just have to guess. And though Rhye has claimed they will reveal more of themselves in the future, Woman may leave you wondering how you can feel so much while having known so little.