Tag Archives: Rome

Luca Bash – The Single Drops EP Review

10 Sep

Modern-day music seems to have an obsession with big beats and EDM-style euphoric rises and drops. Now this isn’t another of those typical reviews slamming EDM for its major successes over the past few years, but it is an review aiming to highlight the beauty and stripped back simplicity of a musician and an instrument.

Italian Luca Bash is one of said musicians, with his new EP, “The Single Drops”, summing up what the medium of acoustic music is, thought-provoking, emotive music that can connect people with its raw power. This EP is a compilation of the ‘best bits’ of the 2014 releases, “Cyan”, “Magenta”, “Yellow” and “Key Black”, plus an original new tune. It’s a novel approach, which shows sheer confidence from Bash in his own output

Bash and his long-time collaborator Giova Pes have combined to create a soulful experience that reaches out and connects with the listener, bridging the gap from record to artist. Kicking off with the new track, “Your Tomorrow”, from the moment Bash’s gravelly tones kick in, over the heavenly acoustic melody, you can close your eyes, lie back and relax. Again, the sound is exceptional here, with the production values high and the crisp instrumentation really matches Bash’s raspy vocals perfectly. It could be said it doesn’t really evolve as a song, but then when a song is the equivalent of a river trickling, does it need to go anywhere providing it is intensely relaxing to listen to.

Second song “Forever Like Asleep”, manages to sound like something heard on a mellower moment of “The Walking Dead”, a show famed for its country influences. The guitar melodies here are captivating and demand attention from the word go. The vocals here are more pronounced and noticeable too, with the musical breakdowns both intriguing and musically diverse too, it’s Bash and Pes showing us, the listener, that they have more to their musical repertoire. At times the vocalisations are slightly strained, but I really think it adds to the level of emotion in the music.

Next up is, “Dear John”, and is where things start to get slightly repetitive. I do enjoy the instrumentation here, as we break into more rhythmic melodies that resonated with me, but I feel this is a song that would excel live, while on record it’s kind of left behind a bit, as it sounds eerily similar to opener, “Your Tomorrow”. It does grow on me as we develop, but I feel that there’s not a lot more to be said about this track. It has more of a sleepy quality than a relaxing one.

The beginning of “Little Tale” sound like a mystical fairytale of sorts, with its mysterious acoustic background, while Bash’s vocals tend to differentiate from what has gone before which is a relief after the slightly derivative nature of “Dear John”. No here, we do gradually build to some form of climax, which allows Bash’s vocals to be a lot more interesting and diverse in their range. The breakdown halfway through serves as something of a harvester for the emotion that is to come in the latter half, we slow down before eeking out another powerful vocal and acoustic combination towards the end of the song, as the acoustics really take centre stage.

This sweet, but short, EP comes to a close with “Black Swans Walls”, which has more than a couple of American reference points, Dave Matthews-esque guitars swelling in the background and providing a suitable backdrop to a hurried Bash on vocals. It all sounds a lot more positive and upbeat, so rather than relax, it gets you a bit more pumped and bouncy! A great way to end such a short little collection of songs, and a nice emotion to leave with the audience, for sure.

Connections have also been important to Luca Bash. He often speaks of the moment where the adulation of a female fan sent shivers down his spine: “Before the final part of ‘Dear John,’ I make a pause after a B7, followed by a G.
When I reached that point of the song, the crowd was quiet and the silence was incredible. But a young female voice screamed aloud ‘Bravo!’ and, despite the fact that I was playing, I heard her. I still remember the shivers. I was unknown, playing a song unknown as well, but able to give emotions. This is the reason why I still compose.”

That much is clear within Bash’s work, you can tell he aims to connect and give people pleasure in his musical truths and personality. With “Single Drops”, he’s only going to connect to more and more people around the world.

Forever Finding Oren Lyons

20 Aug

Oren Lyons

Oren Lyons is a Native American faithkeeper who is widely recognized for his advocacy for indegenous rights. Oren Lyons is also a band, whose nostalgic mix of cinematic Western symphonic rock is a musical “return to the land” and a true pleasure to listen to.

Oren Lyons formed this past January in Silver Lake, California, a Los Angeles neighborhood known for its modernist architecture and hipsters. It combines the work of composer and multi-instrumentalist Gueorgui Linev with guitarist/producer Peter Potyondy, singer Kristianne Bautista, violinist Dannon Rampton, drummer Randy Wagner, and bassist Ian Anderson.

The end result of this combination is an ambient sound that refreshingly transforms the genre of progressive rock into a calm, ethereal, dream-like sequence of delicate string arrangements, soft vocals, and excellent rhythm. “Forever Found,” the band’s debut single, can be streamed on their website. The effort reminds me of Rome, the 2011 album written by Danger Mouse and Italian composer Daniele Luppi, featuring Jack White and Norah Jones. That album featured musicians who recorded spaghetti western soundtracks in the mid-60s. “Forever Found” is cut from the same mold, a track that could have easily found itself on a Western sountrack, and this old-fashioned styling is far from outdated.

The song begins with strings that fall into percussion and an introductory bass line. The bass work in this song is notably good. With a name like Ian Anderson, you almost certainly have to be talented. Kristianne Bautista’s voice can be best described as haunting. It elegantly dances with the music, oscillating with the strings skillfully. The song continues to rise, taking a step up for the second verse, and this leads to exciting string work. The strings are certainly one of the main elements of the song, and they do carry it. I must say though, when the song descends at the 2:40 mark, Peter Potyondy’s guitar introduces a new element to the piece, providing it with an infectious folk-esque riff. The ending is wonderfully constructed. It also provides the listener with a most important conclusion – I want to hear more!

You can explore the band’s Facebook and Soundcloud

Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi Break Boundaries with Rome – A Full Album Review

10 May

Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi first started the Rome project five years ago with a musical dream. Let’s create an ode to the soundtrack of spaghetti westerns, a la “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.” It was an ambitious goal, but one that fit comfortably into the parameters of both Luppi, an Italian composer, and Danger Mouse, a modern music producer and drummer. Add in the vocals talents of Jack White and Norah Jones and you get a melodic combination that effortlessly mixes classical music with an eclectic taste of electronic/folk/rock. The resulting album will be released in a week, but it currently is streaming on Rolling Stone’s website (http://www1.rollingstone.com/hearitnow/player/dangermouse-rome.html) and I definitely suggest taking a peak at this sneak preview.

Each track on the album deserves special attention because of the compelling intricacies and complexities they provide, so my track-by-track review follows all 15 songs, as the clear concept album creates a tale of intriguing sound. Yes, spaghetti western is considered to be a derogatory term, but this album destroys the hackneyed movie connection, and instead explores the creative music that lined its sun-splattered back drops. Rome crushes pop constructions and demonstrates modern respect for classical music. It is a work of sheer creativity, a western waltz, and certainly the best album of the year thus far.

“Theme of Rome”

The first track is an instrumental with ties to Pink Floyd’s work on “Welcome to the Machine,” with the single-struck chords and “The Great Gig in the Sky,” with the vocal chant. It sounds like a combination of these two mixed with the subtle element of a western. This introduction presents the album’s artsy and ambitious attempt well, almost creating a sun rise image, darkness slowly giving way to light.

“The Rose with a Broken Neck”

The beginning screams Danger Mouse, electronic, studio sounds that embrace listeners. Jack White stars as the male vocal part. The music is a little overpowering, somewhat incongruous with the vocals. It almost sounds like a unorganized bad dream, premised by a frightening lullaby provided by the backing keys. It works, though. There is beauty to its organization. The melody is infectious. As Okocim describes it, “it sounds like a video game, or rather a waltz.” And this is so true. It is a waltz in time signature and feel

And oh the classic western connection of the motif of “lonely” and repeating verse:

Lonely I see
Lonely I need
Lonely I feel
And lonely I bleed
Lonely I trust
And lonely I must
Be the rose with the broken neck

Morning Fog”

 The keys dominate the early album. This interlude is dreamy, because of the keys, and its 40 seconds drift the listener into the following song.

 “Season’s Trees”

 Here comes more of a traditional folk song with strings and Norah Jones’ sultry voice, sensual, inviting and candid. It moves well. I do love her voice. It is folk/pop and pretty conventional. The strings layer nicely, but are almost unnecessary. The song does not fit into the album’s key-heavy western pattern well. It is a blip of blasé and despite the ending doesn’t do it for me.

Her Hollow Ways (Interlude)”

And then we are back to the beautiful combination of Luppi and Danger Mouse. This is a perfect example of their flawless combination, an example of how classical can mix seamlessly with modern musical conventions (electronic). The composer meets the independent production that is Danger Mouse. A welcomed interlude. And the choir just moves the album, like a movie.

Roman Blue”

Basic chords. The song is in three, moving away from the normal pop convention of the 4/4 beat. It then immediately takes on this lull. This is my favorite instrumental. It is an instrumental masterpiece. The strings work is beautiful. It is powerful. But, one can still hear the Danger Mouse influence with the bass and small, lightly stroked keys. The wailing voice is such a Floyd thing, but its painful connotation ends the song on this awe-striking somber note. It sings western.

Two Against One”

This song was released a while ago and is one of Jack White’s tracks. The acoustic guitar is rapid paced. White’s voice is smooth and is placed over a plucking guitar in a minor key. Then, a bridge collapses into this surf-like electric guitar solo that smells like burning sand. The end features a harpsichord that rings twice, just enough to end the song a freaky note.

“The Gambling Priest”

 Surf guitar mixed with moaning voices and unconventional percussion. What the heck? This is like surf-psychedelia. The drum beat is exceptional. This is like Brian Wilson meets gothic folk meets Danger Mouse in a comfortable studio. The movie continues. This would be the part prefacing a big fight. Something evil is happening underneath the song and I want to know what it is.

The World (Interlude)”

 A grand piece. The vocals are heavenly, placed skillfully over a tiny keyboard riff.


Track 10 came quickly. We begin with Danger Mouse’s most amazing riff since “The High Road” with Broken Bells. The keys are perfect. It sets this magical scene placed beautifully over an acoustic rhythm. This one fits much better into the movie that is Rome. The song works exceptionally well. Norah Jones’ voice is anagogical and smoky. It is more theatrical than “Two Against One,” but the lyric smothers the quick acoustic rhythm in a similar manner. I also am such a sucker for the classical portion with silhouette strings. The song moves like a post-death scene and it takes the title of best song on the album.

The Matador Has Fallen”

A slight change of pace. This is more uplifting. It is a worthy follow us to “Black,” a similar song.

Morning Fog”

The drumming on this album should be recognized. The album moves at an unpredictable pace, but the drums never falter. They are always crisp and acute to sound. Morning fog, suitably with its name, is dreary. The electronic keys are somewhat plangent, but their strength is welcome. The instrumental is carried by the chorus, that sings with strength, and the last reverberating chord is a melodic vibration.

Problem Queen”

 Welcome back Norah Jones. The keys lift and drop like a roller coaster. They are the backing for the song that cooks with Jones’ voice.

 “Her Hollow Ways”

The Her Hollow Ways interlude was the wondrous combination of both Danger Mouse and Luppi. The actual song takes on a lot of its partners qualities. The classical portion is my favorite part of the song, obviously taking most of the interludes melodic structure. The actual song is an expansion of the interlude, a triumphant, but sobering song where the hero reflects. Imagine yourself staring out at a desert expanse, blustery orange sand and a fading amber setting sun.

 “The World”

The World follows up from its own interlude. This sounds more western, and the combination of voices are powerful, sounding off this credits rolling finale of a perfect spaghetti western film. The end of the song presents the perfect climax and the album ends with keys fading out in the abyss.

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