Ever since its “Cow Song” 7-inch exploded from Fairfax, Rake has occupied an iconoclastic position in the D.C. music scene. After three singles of flaming noise-punk, the band’s debut LP, Rake Is My Co-Pilot, was a perverse turn, gathering up sprawling improvised rock, Moog, windy sax, and electronic bursts from an old Simon game. The band’s double CD Art Ensemble of Rake/Tell Tale Moog vacillated between the two moods, lulling and then shocking even the most patient ear. Intelligence Agent blends these tendencies, placing the resulting music—at least from “PostScript.drv” on—in the realm of Richmond or Louisville math-rock or improv rock (Slint, Rodan, Coral, Pelt). But Rake, powered by Vinnie Van Go-Go’s academic jazz-guitar chops and a bandwide interest in out-jazz, is a strong enough unit to produce interesting and individual sounds (think of Last Exit crossed with Art Ensemble of Chicago). On the first half of this disc, there’s a seamless progression from the artier ebb and flow of “PunkRock Glo” to the seething rock of “Chair Throwing Incident”—lead by controlled drum pounding—and fading carefully into the electronic tone play of “B. D. B.,” where a riff worthy of considerable air-guitar mileage signals that we are about to rock. It wouldn’t be Rake without Moog excess or drowned-out vocal screaming, but when “The Cosmos at Large” brings the noise together—earthy punk merging with spiritual free jazz—the result is a dynamic, inventive proponent of a burgeoning musical alternative.

—Jeff Bagato