Baku Llama | Eris

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Eris

by Baku Llama

\"Eris\" is not about grand performances, It\'s about the very essence of music as a vehicle for expressing human passion. \"Eris\" is about emotions and beauty. \"Eris ranks among the strongest CDs of the decade and is a clear highlight of 2007\".
Genre: Rock: Avant-Prog
Release Date: 

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1. Discord
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2. Hamatsa
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3. Betrayed
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4. Punch It
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5. Eris
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6. Six to Midnight
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7. This Time
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8. The Rite
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9. Discord Resolved
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10. Dream Eater
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11. Torrential
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12. Side Two
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13. Tragic Mask
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Some would claim nothing new is happening in music. Others (myself included) are forced to wonder whether such people are living under a rock. Whatever genre of music you like, there are artists pushing its boundaries, but by far the most interesting modern acts are those who are truly doing something beyond any established genre boundaries. There are not many in this latter category, but what few there are, are uniformly excellent (among those I know, at least). And - cue fanfare – Baku Llama is among that group. Their music is comprised of just three major elements: drums/percussion, guitar, and keyboards, but they create a richly textured soundscape marked by jazzy keyboards in the forefront, Glenn Branca style guitar providing textures (and occasionally joining the keys in the forefront), and soft but interesting beats that propel the music forward. It doesn\'t seem revolutionary on paper, but when these sounds actually come together on Eris, the sound itself is unique. As Valdez (who sent me the CD) said when I informed him that I had received Eris, \"I think you will agree that it is quite different if nothing else.\" As it happens, I agree that it is quite a bit different, and much more - Eris isn\'t just \"different,\" it\'s fantastic. In general, the quality of all the songs is very consistently good, with a few songs standing out as especially strong. My favorites are \"Hamatsa,\" \"Side Two,\" and \"Six to Midnight,\" all of which showcase the jazz-keys, Branca-guitar, driving-percussion/drums trio I mentioned before, using the combination to create tension and keep the listener riveted. \"Six to Midnight\" is particularly intense, with the drums holding steady as the guitar pulses in and out and the keyboards go absolutely haywire, perpetually building up to a climax that is the most captivating moment on the CD. The only other standout track is \"Betrayed,\" which is one of three vocal tracks on the CD. While \"Betrayed\" works really well, mixing powerful female vocals with the instrumental background I\'ve described, the two other vocal tracks are less effective. \"Eris\" is, musically, one of the most interesting on the CD, but the spoken vocals feel out of place and detract from the power of actual music. I still love it because of the music, but when I listen, I always wonder what it would be like if it were instrumental. \"This Time,\" on the other hand, is perhaps the sole weak spot of the CD, straying from their established style into more conventional pop/rock territory. While still interesting, it feels out of place on the CD, in part because of the stylistic differences, but also in part because it just doesn\'t feel \"different,\" as the rest of Eris does. That said, one average (for it\'s not bad at all) song doesn\'t ruin what is otherwise a phenomenal CD. Hopefully, future releases, will see Baku Llama improving (not that they\'ve got far left to go) and producing a masterpiece. Should they leave behind vocals altogether (or at least stay closer to \"Betrayed,\" letting the vocals complement – rather than drive – the music) and focus on honing their tremendous ability to engage listeners instrumentally, I could easily see them returning with a masterpiece. And I wouldn\'t be at all surprised if it sounded nothing like Eris. After all, coming from Baku Llama, it\'s sure to be \"different.\" Wherever they go from Eris, however, will not change that Eris itself ranks among the strongest CDs of the decade and is a clear highlight of 2007. Highly recommended......

Aaron (pnoom) for progressiveears.com


Reviews


to write a review

Olav Bjornssen

Baku Llama
Baku Llama has made an interesting official debut here. With influences from jazz, krautrock and psychedelic rock the end result here is a dark, brooding and dreamy musical output.

It's all about mood explorations here, where themes and moods are explored, and contrasts are used extensively to give the music a nerve, thus keeping up interest from the listener.

Not everything here works, but most of the songs are good ones, that really will captivate listeners open to this form of music.

Olav Bjornssen

Baku Llama's ERIS
Date: 9/25/2007
Format: CD (Album)

Baku Llama is a California-based trio releasing their debut album this fall. They have other releases to their name according to their MySpace page - but this release is what they themselves consider to be their first real release, according to the promotional info.

Musically this trio seems to draw their influences from a lot of places. Many of the songs are structured in a way that makes me think that krautrock is a genre they are familiar with, whereas the guitar riffs in many songs are quite similar to what can be heard on Hawkwind's more psychedelic output in the 70's; slow, dark and at often gritty. Keyboards often have a jazzy feel to them, but are also used to create lush or symphonic atmospheres. The piano is used for more or less simple and often beautiful melody lines, but also for jazzy improvisations. Often in the same song.

The overall soundscape in most songs here consists to a great extent of contrasts; beautiful melodies paired with dark and gritty sounds, repeated patterns paired with improvised playing. And the songs as such rarely have an average A4 development, the main thing on this release seems to be mood explorations, where a specific theme or mood is explored in as good as every detail. If I had to make a tag for this music, avant-garde fusion would probably be my best description, adding words like eerie, dark and dreamy to the tag.

As for the songs here, they are a slightly mixed lot in my opinion. All the songs here have moments that really intrigued me, and most to the extent of me really liking them.
What I see as the main weakness in some of the songs here, is that somewhat limited patterns and moods tend to get over-explored. The moods and nothing else to explore, and these songs then get repetetive in my opinion. When the band gets itpatterns are interesting and intriguing; but after a certain amount of time there's really right though, as they do in most of the songs, the music is really captivating.

My overall conclusion is that this is a good debut album. Fans of krautrock and fusion will perhaps be the ones who will easiest be attracted to this release, but I suspect that this music may have a much wider appeal as well. As the band has samples on their MySpace site, it should be easy to check out if you like this or not.

Personal highlights: “Tragic Mask”, “Discord”, “Side Two”, “The Rite”






My rating: 74/100

Fred Trafton (GEPR)

Baku Llama's ERIS
Baku Llama is a odd name for an odd-sounding band. What does "odd" mean in the context of progressive rock? Oh, I don't know. I think it's the keyboard playing, which frequently sounds more like the algorithmic sequences I've heard coming from music composition software than what I usually hear humans playing. Still, when I mentioned this to Rick Whitehurst, who plays keys for the band, he promised, "The keyboards will make sense after a few listens". And he was right. They're still odd, but they do make sense.
Eris is actually the second release for the band, but they consider it to be their first "real" album. The songs sound like they're heavily improvised, against an obviously composed underpinning. Guitar and drums form the rhythmic backbone over which piano and electric pianos weave their "odd" melodies and Ann Bernath sings spacily. (Is that a word?)

Eris works for me because of the subject matter. The Goddess Eris, as it turns out, is one of my patron goddesses. She's the Goddess of Chaos and Discord. The chaotic oddity of the music compliments an album dedicated to Her perfectly well. Rick Whitehurst told me the album is inspired by the recently discovered "dwarf" planet Eris. Ha! That's the Goddess on the album cover, complete with golden apple. Hail Eris! All Hail Discordia!

Excuse me. Got a little excited there. Let's get back on track here. Eris is a pretty cool album and very interesting, particularly for a debut effort. I'd recommend it to fans of krautrock, but maybe not fusion fans, at least not those who think flurrys of highly virtuosic fast notes define the genre. In other words, they don't have much in common with The Allan Holdsworth Band. I'll be interested to see where this trio goes from here. More interested than I am in AHB. -- Fred Trafton

ffroyd (progressive ears)

Baku Llama's ERIS
Member: (Profile) (All Album Reviews by ffroyd)
Date: 11/13/2007
Format: CD (Album)

Count me in as another one who thinks this is a pretty cool CD. If I were to have judged this band by the pictures on their MySpace page, I probably would have thought them to be a boring folk pop band or something but this is some pretty neat space rock meets haunting ambient psychedelia or something along those lines. Baku Llama is a trio based in the outskirts of Los Angeles consisting of Ann Bernath on drums, vocals and keyboards, David Bernath on guitar and bass, and Rick Whitehurst on keyboards. [I]Eris[/I] is the band’s first official CD.

While I think this is excellent music, I’d admit that it isn’t all that complex, in fact, I found most of it to be quite rudimentary. This is not a bad thing at all though, it gives the tunes a rather primitive quality that is very enjoyable. There haunting starkness to the proceedings on most cuts. Ann’s vocals sound like something that would come from a 60s hippie cult band. Quite a bit of the guitar work reminds me of something Dave Brock from Hawkwind might have played. The keyboards have a Doors-like quality to them in spots, with the rambling organ work of Ray Manzarek often decorating the background.

As I mentioned before, many tunes have a haunting soundtrack quality. The band usually lays down a spacey groove and jams away overtop of it. One of the highlights for me would be the title track, with some wonderful vocals and a spoken word accompaniment. The track just after that one is “Six to Midnight” and has some really nice abstract piano playing. Sounds like something you would hear in an old horror movie. The closest the band gets to a normal song would be on “This Time” which has some really nice vocals from Ann.

Towards the end of the album is where things get a little odder. “Dreameater” has some interesting chunky but subtle guitar work from David. “Torrential” includes some weird synth noises to go along with some improv piano playing. The longest track “Side Two” is a nice long jam and while it’s still pretty mellow, it’s about the heaviest the CD gets.

Overall, I’d say this is some decent music. It’s not earth shattering but it should be worth a listen for folks interested in atmospheric rock with a psychedelic edge. The band has a decent selection of music to listen to on their MySpace page and this should give you a good idea of what they are all about.

Stefanie Diaz

Rich and Dreamy
I found ERIS by Baku Llama to be one of the most hypnotic albums I have ever listened to. Rich and beautiful textures and melodies, folklike female vocals that are very heartfelt and mesmerizing. The piano is almost unreal. The guitars are superbly lo-key but provide an awesome and powerful backdrop. What kind of music is this anyway? Like nothing we have heard before. I dont know what else to say... it's so different.

Richard Poulin (Gnosis)

ERIS by Baku Llama
Richard Poulin 24-March-2008 Eris (2007)

Ann Bernath - Drums, Vocals, Piano
David Bernath - Guitars, Bass, Nano-Piano
Rick Whitehurst - Pianos, Keyboards, Vibes
As much as the UK was the breeding ground of mainstream, archetypal and groundbreaking progressive music in the ’70s, as much the movement took time to take shape on the other side of the pond. Back in those years, even my tiny Canada was at least as \"progressive\" musically as a whole than our Big Brother south of the 45th parallel, with its Harmonium, L’Infonie, Contraction, etc. But one must admit that the 21st century prog has as solid ground as it ever had in the USA. One must now realize that the American prog scene is vigorous, immensely creative, and is one of the best places to look for what is really happening in the world of innovative progressive rock. Nowadays, what really takes my breath away and grabs my attention and makes me salivate in a sustained manner happens to be stuff by the US prog scene. The list of top notch groups and musicians, many of which with wholehearted masterpieces in my Gnosis logbook, is impressive: Far Corner, Claudia Quintet, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Alec Redfearn, Deluge Grander, Upsilon Accrux, Ahleuchatistas, and we haven’t even strated to talk about the New York Downtown scene, with the ubiquitous John Zorn’s circle of friends who never ceases to amaze us with the best and the less better :-)....

And there are more surprises at every corner that keeps us wondering whether the American prog scene is so creative and innovative is so as the result of a slow fermentation process, the type that gives us the best wines on the planet. Or for other reasons, socio-geo-political, that we know oh so very well... In any case, here is another gem that shone one good day with the laser beam of my CD player: Baku Llama’s \"Eris\". Baku Llama is a California-based trio with a distinctive, unique sound, that manages to succeed at the improbable ideal of making improvisation work around a central concept without too much noodling, taking chances while staying melodic, and displaying a youthful intensity that sounds like many things while sounding always new. \"Eris\" is their second album, although the first \"Devour my Evil Dream\" actually contains much of the material found on Eris, so I suspect the latter being simply a pre-release of \"Eris\", take some and leave some... This is a mostly instrumental album, with two actual songs with lyrics which some have found out of place but which I rather love because of the purity of the alto singer’s voice, Ann Bernath. She has that rich, sensual, powerful and earthly flavor that you can find in Carol of Harvest’s Beate Krause, which is a strong compliment in my dictionary :-) A type of voice that would have propelled many ’70s psychedelic bands to nirvana and that should be heard more often in the future, I hope. One weak point is the slightly trite character of the lyrics, which don’t seem to be consistent with the more general theme of the album (Eris is Discord’s Goddess), unless everything here is symbolic of a very personal subject matter, which could well be the case. Love, love, love....

Part of their highly distinctive signature is the intense, and I MEAN intense, constant interplay between an aerial , nervous, even manic, piano, and heavy duty, fuzzy-as-hell, pounding guitar. This is what strikes the listener at once, when that type of intensity starts to build up as on the second track, \"Hamatsa\" (you can look over what Hamatsa is all about, but I wouldn’t dare venturing into that kind of esoteric hodgepodge all by myself :-)), that leaves you exhilarated, with adrenalin rushing into your brain muscles. In a word, smiling with aural pleasure. That track is very representative of the type of improvisational intensity that does not venture very far into avant garde, but that defies conventions and the beaten paths: progression in intensity with tension between the keyboards and electric guita /jamming, echoing, efficacious percussion playing/very natural, fluid interplay between musicians who are not necessarily virtuosi, butwho display so much emotion and expressivity and inspiration that the heart does not mind the less fancy :-) Jammy, spacy music reminiscent of some of Hidria Spacefolk work.

At first, the keyboard playing seems a bit too simple, not to say amateurish, but it matches the on-the-spot energy that is expressed throughout that album, which is self-admttedly reflecting the raw, unrehearsed and organic feeling of improvisational music. It works, despite its apparent lack of virtuosity. Hence the often heard reference to the Doors that one can find about musical references heard on \"Eris\". And the guitar work! It’s the daring aspect of it, the insistence, the jagged, plain, almost garage-like style, that contrasts sharply with the aerial, demented, chaotic piano playing, that makes the experience of listening to \"Eris\" so special. Just listen to the variations and the riffs on \"Dreameater\": brilliant, absolutely brilliant.

The title track, \"Eris\", is another particularly successful one and that is very representative of Baku Llama’s signature: spacey, eerie effects that create again a very dramatic, intense buildup. The playing is simple again, but very effective ; one only has to leave oneself get swayed by the improvisational interplay between the musicians ; the key is in the disciplined ensemble playing where the intensity seems to be fully controlled, with a very subdued type of attack first, one feels that the musicians communicate strongly so that the buildup in intensity works almost seamlessly. Very much the illustration of the topic of Eris, the goddess of Discord. The spoken part in the last part is a bit weaker in the context of the music, but nevertheless serves the purpose of the concept.

\"The Rite\" is yet another buildup-in-intensity type of track, with a much fiercer intensity yet. The hyperfuzzy electric guitar playing is very raw but adds the required color to illustrating the theme. What makes Baku Llama’s sound so distinctive is the ubiquitous interweaving between the keyboardist and the guitarist, the other instruments playing somehow the role for the continuo in baroque music. Pounding, heavy, ominous: a pure gem!

I strongly recommend that album for whoever is looking for yet another attempt at defying genres and daring to be authentic. \"Eris\" is not about grand performances – this sounds great, but with the quality of a home, economic recording - but about the very essence of music as a vehicle for expressing human passion. \"Eris\" is not about subtle instrumentation and try-to-surprise-me musical experiments that so often fail because they forget the listener’s soul and pleasure. \"Eris\" is about emotions and beauty. Eris is not about any of the excesses of the progressive genre. It’s about using all that works to convey the language of anger, of sadness, of serenity, of chaos, and of the eternal wonder of man’s place in Nature.

I would bet you have never heard progressive metal with such a well-contained intensity :-)


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Rick Whitehurst

Baku Llama ERIS new release
Some would claim nothing new is happening in music. Others (myself included) are forced to wonder whether such people are living under a rock. Whatever genre of music you like, there are artists pushing its boundaries, but by far the most interesting modern acts are those who are truly doing something beyond any established genre boundaries. There are not many in this latter category, but what few there are, are uniformly excellent (among those I know, at least). And - cue fanfare – Baku Llama is among that group. Their music is comprised of just three major elements: drums/percussion, guitar, and keyboards, but they create a richly textured soundscape marked by jazzy keyboards in the forefront, Glenn Branca style guitar providing textures (and occasionally joining the keys in the forefront), and soft but interesting beats that propel the music forward. It doesn't seem revolutionary on paper, but when these sounds actually come together on Eris, the sound itself is unique. As Valdez (who sent me the CD) said when I informed him that I had received Eris, "I think you will agree that it is quite different if nothing else." As it happens, I agree that it is quite a bit different, and much more - Eris isn't just "different," it's fantastic. In general, the quality of all the songs is very consistently good, with a few songs standing out as especially strong. My favorites are "Hamatsa," "Side Two," and "Six to Midnight," all of which showcase the jazz-keys, Branca-guitar, driving-percussion/drums trio I mentioned before, using the combination to create tension and keep the listener riveted. "Six to Midnight" is particularly intense, with the drums holding steady as the guitar pulses in and out and the keyboards go absolutely haywire, perpetually building up to a climax that is the most captivating moment on the CD. The only other standout track is "Betrayed," which is one of three vocal tracks on the CD. While "Betrayed" works really well, mixing powerful female vocals with the instrumental background I've described, the two other vocal tracks are less effective. "Eris" is, musically, one of the most interesting on the CD, but the spoken vocals feel out of place and detract from the power of actual music. I still love it because of the music, but when I listen, I always wonder what it would be like if it were instrumental. "This Time," on the other hand, is perhaps the sole weak spot of the CD, straying from their established style into more conventional pop/rock territory. While still interesting, it feels out of place on the CD, in part because of the stylistic differences, but also in part because it just doesn't feel "different," as the rest of Eris does. That said, one average (for it's not bad at all) song doesn't ruin what is otherwise a phenomenal CD. Hopefully, future releases, will see Baku Llama improving (not that they've got far left to go) and producing a masterpiece. Should they leave behind vocals altogether (or at least stay closer to "Betrayed," letting the vocals complement – rather than drive – the music) and focus on honing their tremendous ability to engage listeners instrumentally, I could easily see them returning with a masterpiece. And I wouldn't be at all surprised if it sounded nothing like Eris. After all, coming from Baku Llama, it's sure to be "different." Wherever they go from Eris, however, will not change that Eris itself ranks among the strongest CDs of the decade and is a clear highlight of 2007. Highly recommended......

Aaron (pnoom) for progressiveears.com

Rok Podgrajsek

BAKU LLAMA
Ameri--ki trio Baku Llama je nastal, ko so se trije biv--i znanci sre--ali po dolgem --asu. Ugotovili so, da imajo skupne glasbene interese in po enem »jam session-u« je nastala nova skupina. Album Eris je nekako posledica teh improvizacij, saj namre-- veliko skladb zveni kot posledica teh jam-ov. Ne glede na to, da imajo --lani skupine podobne interese, se v glasbi opazi mnogo razli--nih vplivov – od jazz-rocka, avantgarde, simfoni--nega rocka, folka ter popa. Noben --anr ne prevladuje, ob--asno pride tudi do kombiniranja. Tako zasedba nikoli ne zapade v preve-- znane vode in glasba ni tak--na, ki bi bila preve-- enoli--na in ki bi se je lahko hitro naveli--al. Skladbi Discord in Discord Resolved precej spominjata na Happy The Man in tu Baku Llama ustvari edini »--isti« simfoni--ni pesmi. Hamatsa je tipi--en jazz-rock fusion z elektri--nim klavirjem in kitarskimi rifi. Betrayed in This Time sta bolj pop zadevi, z nekaterimi folk prvinami. Ti dve pesmi sta najslab--i na albumu, saj je vokal dokaj nadle--en. Vokal je prisoten --e na pesmi Eris, a je precej manj nadle--en in opazen. Ann Bernath v glavnem na sre--o recitira. Pri Punch It se opazi vpliv folka, popa in simfoni--nega rocka, medtem ko je preostal album v glavnem zapolnjen s skladbami, kjer se kombinira avantgarda ter jazz-rock. Najve--ja pomanjkljivost je vokal, a to niti ni huda te--ava, ker je prisoten le na treh pesmih. Na sre--o so se v skupini odlo--ili posvetiti bolj instrumentalnim stvaritvam. Pesmi, kjer so prisotni vokali, so tudi sicer slab--e, bolj usmerjene v pop ali folk. Med klaviaturami se dosti uporablja elektri--ni klavir, klavir, kot tudi razni sintetizatorji. Zame je to najbolj--i vidik albuma, ker so dokaj raznovrstne in ambiciozne. Kitara napram klaviaturam z mo--nimi repetitivnimi rifi poskrbi za atmosfero. Ob--asno kitarist uporabi tudi akusti--no kitaro, ki je najbolj opazna pri vokalnih skladbah. Klaviaturist ob--asno zaigra tudi na raznovrstna tolkala (vibrafon, zvon--ki), ki dajo glasbi nekolik--en simfoni--en pridih. Bobni so precej osnovni in ne impresionirajo, a za tovrstno glasbo, ki temelji bolj na improvizacijah in ustvarjanju ambientov, so dovolj dobri. Eris je album, ki je narejen zelo kvalitetno, a mu manjka neka inspiracija, ki bi ga povzdignila iz dobrega v izvrsten izdelek. Vsekakor so Baku Llama najbolj--i v avantgardnem in jazz-rock predelu in --e se bodo v prihodnje --e bolj posvetili kompozicijam, se prav gotovo lahko nadejamo --e bolj--im izdelkom. Do tedaj pa naj Eris slu--i kot opozorilo o potencialu skupine Baku Llama. Sedaj je na njih, da ta potencial uresni--ijo ali pa stagnirajo. _________________________This review was reprinted from Rockline Magazine in Slovenia and Written by Rok Podgraj--ek