Red House Painters have a beautifully consistent aesthetic about them which is what attracted me to them in the first place; something revolving around their name, the rustic scenes depicted on their sepia-tinted album covers, and the simple yet epic resonance of their music. Their first release, "Down Colorful Hill", is what many consider their masterwork, and while superb, it seems to me more like a diamond in the rough, foreshadowing what was to follow. This, the first of their two 1993 self-titled LPs (also known respectively as `the rollercoaster one' and `the bridge one') is what I consider their definitive product. In fact, the two together could be considered a single definitive opus; a two-volume triple-album. But if you had to pick one, it would be this.
"Funhouse" is a song I would hold up as a template of the archetypal RHP style, with its painstakingly slow, martial, 6/8 drumbeat (do you have any idea how hard it is to play that _slow_! ), patiently chiming guitars with each note like a carefully chosen word, and a spiraling, almost frenetic climax. Other standouts on this double-album are as numerous as they are excellent. There is obviously a lot of deep pain behind these songs, but it is expressed so beautifully that it keeps the pathos, however dark, from descending into irredeemable despair. Their music has a gorgeous kind of expansive melancholy to it, like gazing out to sea at dusk on the central or northern California coast. When listening to this I get almost overwhelmed with its sheer emotive power and purity. I am in complete awe of these people, for having this wonderful kind of artistic vision and the wherewithal to pull it off so magnificently.