Improvisational music collective known as “RMAD” began as a purely recreational outlet when it was conceptualized in early 2019 between drummer Rob Madore, keyboardist/saxophonist Isaac Young, and bassist Ryan Berry. The project evolved out of a series of live performances between the three musicians, who met through the jazz and prog-rock scene in New Haven, CT. A year and a half later, the trio released their debut album in December 2020 with the 20-track Remember Me After Death.

Remember Me After Death hears the quartet–the main trio plus special guest guitarist William Earley–perform a completely improvised, single set performance recorded way back in March 2020 at Middletown, CT music venue La Boca. The album, which boasts nonsensical song titles named after the performance, showcases an inspiring combination of technical skills and collective creativity while delivering some pretty awe-inspiring jams that continually move back-and-forth between jazz fusion and dance-heavy jamtronica throughout its 90-minute runtime.

Opening with “Don’t Worry” (the album’s first ‘track’) Earley’s first guitar solo hits with fluidity and just before a great interplay begins between Young’s keyboard and Berry’s bass, and for a brief moment, sounds more like a composition that’s been produced and worked out. Yet, the fact that the segment was actually a moment of spontaneous collective improvisation speaks immediately to the remarkable chemistry between these four musicians. Within four minutes, Young’s keyboard chords meet rising basslines, while drum fills take on a sense of drama, and there’s already a killer climax. It’s a short-lived peak, but one that returns in even better form in the follow up “Oops, My Bad”. The second crescendo comes in like a grand musical entrance, as an instrumental way of saying to listeners, Hello, the show is starting, take a seat and get ready.

The four players follow (and lead) each other’s musical footsteps like shadows. When one of them takes on a new beat or tries out a different melody line, the listener can hear within mere seconds when the others pick up on what’s happening and catch up.

With a collaborative experiment like RMAD, there is the urge to charge forward and keep the improvisation as much an exercise or a game as it is a performance for the listener. A number of the grooves change as fast as they take shape throughout the album, making it seem apparent that RMAD is not grasping for the kind of limited spontaneous ideas which often result in getting stuck in any particular musical direction. Rather, they seem blessed with collective inspiration that keeps them continually eager to develop the next musical segment.

That being said, as shifting as the record can feel, the music also seems to flow into larger conceptual sections, with a number of the tracks complimenting the previous one in sound or feel. In a similar manner to the opening two tracks, “Mr Madore’s Dark, Sick, Twisted Daydream” comes in as the exclamation point to the epic, slow-drawn crescendo that materializes between “Righties, Loosies, Lefties, Tighties” and “Up In Smoke We Go”.

In “Untz Jam #1,009,633,914”,  the individual expressions of each player come together in this unique way where heavy, thumping bass complements the light, ethereal sounds from the guitar keyboards. The unique mixture makes it one of the coolest tracks on the album.

RMAD – Remember Me After Death [Full-Album]

To know Rob Madore on the personal side is to be aware of his caustic, take-it-or-leave-it sense of humor and his sardonic perspective towards life. The budding Connecticut music scene, which has seen the members of RMAD perform on stage many times with members of The Disco Biscuits, Lotus, Goose, and more, is well aware of the drummer’s abilities. Oppositely, to know Isaac Young is to be surprised at how someone so calm in his personal nature can also perform with such intensity. Many proficient live musicians have this tendency–especially during exciting collaborative moments–to play like they’re angry, and Young is no exception on this record.

The saxophone solo on “People Suck” (also played by Young) is a little more relaxed, but not by much. Berry, meanwhile, is all business. Serious in both personal character and playing style, Berry glues compositions together but doesn’t waste any time forgetting to make sure the bass is as colorful as anything else.

RMAD provides the vehicle for each members’ unique approach to life and music to morph into a collective whole greater than its individual parts, with Madore channeling his bizarre personality into his reverence for ambitious prog technicality and Young cooling off his apparent inner demons with his reverence for sonic exploration. The band’s improv performance style captured on the album highlights their achievement in channeling a fascinating balance between tightly-produced compositions and total creative abandon.

Taking up the guitar on the album’s satisfyingly heavy-handed closing track, “Keep Playing”, is none other than Cody Urban, who also acted as the sound engineer who mixed and mastered the recordings on the album. A huge credit is owed to Urban for giving this project–which was at one point simply a one-off experiment–its bold sonic direction.

Throw on a pair of your best-sounding headphones for this album, and fully appreciate the fact that Remember Me After Death’s debut album sounds as pristine and professional as it does.