Named after his favorite blaxploitation actor, Thalmus Rasulala is a new solo project from Atlanta music mainstay Jonathan Merenivitch. Over the past few years, the multi-instrumentalist and vocalist has helped craft futuristic pop with Janelle Monáe, atmospheric dream pop for Del Venicci, and harsh art rock for Jock Gang, while still finding time to lead Shepherds, whose most recent LP, Exit Youth, managed to touch upon everything from bleak post-punk, to ambient drone and fuzzed-out rock. Now, it appears, you can add country music to his long resume of styles.
According to Merenivitch, he created the project in order to reconcile his inherent desire for acceptance with his longing for solitude. “I find that country music is the most appropriate vehicle for these thoughts and ideas,” he explains via email. “The songs will cover heartbreak, police brutality, nostalgia and the general anxiety of existence. Also, never forget George Jones has soul.”
On Thalmus Rasulala’s debut single, “Blame,” Merenivitch opts for airy simplicity with silky, serene guitars that bend and warp around a steady backbeat and washed-out vocals that cling like static sheets to the track’s background. Subject-wise, it’s classic country — a bittersweet ode to broken love, regret, and trying to move forward — but the recording makes it feel distant like an old, worn photograph neglected on a dusty shelf. There’s no word yet on when a record may be due, so for now just enjoy the sound of one of the scene’s most malleable artists stretching his wings and exploring new directions. Listen below.
Thalmus Rasulala will make its live debut tomorrow night at the Earl when they play in support of State Champion, DiCaprio, and Little Gold. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. Admission is $8.