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BAKU LLAMA

Eclectic Prog • United States


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Baku Llama biography
BAKU LLAMA is a three piece Avant garde progressive rock band based in Duarte, California, but also in Walla Walla, Washington where Rick has recently relocated. The band is formed of: David Bernath on guitar and bass guitar, Ann Bernath on drums, vocals and sometimes piano and Rick Whitehurst on electric piano.
Their debut album Eris is their first official release, although there is a similar online album called Devour my evil dream available as well on cdbaby.com. That one has a few different songs and no bass guitar yet added.
All three members have full time jobs, so the music is a labor of love for them. David plays a Fender Strat, Telecaster, and a Lindert guitar through Marshall and Boogie amps, also Guild and Taylor acoustic guitars. Ann plays Yamaha drums and does all the vocals on Eris. She plays piano on "Discord" and "Discord Resolved". Vocally trained, Ann also reads music. "She is a soft hitting drummer and she can hang on tight to the music wherever David goes while jamming" says Rick when describing her style. Her vocals sound very medieval and mystic. Rick is a self-taught pianist and plays a Yamaha electric piano. If you ask him he will tell you he does not know how to play the piano. He certainly does have a natural talent, and the muse appears to be always with him. Corinna Whitehurst, Rick's wife made the beautiful artwork for Eris..

The band's musical influences are diverse: from Nels CLINE, VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR and PETER HAMILL to KING CRIMSON, John COLTRANE and PORCUPINE TREE, from DISCIPLINE to The DOORS, Keith TIPPETT and Rock Duo Magma. The group has already finished all the tracks for their next project and they are hoping to release it in 2009.
It is not easy to categorize ERIS because it has elements of rock, jazz, ambient, folk, and avant-garde. The band tries to create an intense and mysterious atmosphere with their music, and although keyboard oriented, one interesting thing that the listeners will notice is that the guitars sometimes act as a rhythm section element along with the drums (like on some parts of the song "Side Two") and the intriguing thing is that David knows where to do it and where to stop it before it sounds flat.
There are three songs with vocals: "Betrayed", "Eris" and "This Time". Ann's vocals are folksy and deep. Her singing is soft, just like her drumming. "Betrayed" has a slight DOORS feel to it, especially on the keyboards. "Eris" has a mor...
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ErisEris
2007
Audio CD$7.99
$19.99 (used)

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BAKU LLAMA discography


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BAKU LLAMA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.47 | 10 ratings
Eris
2007
3.00 | 2 ratings
Devour My Evil Dream
2007

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BAKU LLAMA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Eris by BAKU LLAMA album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.47 | 10 ratings

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Eris
Baku Llama Eclectic Prog

Review by usa prog music

3 stars Baku Llama's Eris is an interesting and somewhat unusual addition to the world of prog by the trio from California. I'm not sure it fits most people's definition of prog ? that is, grand sweeping musical gestures and Titanic-sized crescendos, played with musical precision and technical bravado. Baku Llama uses a different approach, taking the listener on a mostly instrumental journey of moods, sound effects, and atmospheres.

Much of the album has an improvised feel, with many of the tracks consisting of a single riff or motif that gets used as a starting point for the trio to weave various textures in & out before returning to the original idea. The improvs never veer too far off the starting point, and all three musicians interact with each other and let the music carry itself. Although they don't have anywhere near improvisational firepower of King Crimson (who does?) or melodic flair of The Doors, in a more rudimentary way they travel similar territory with their occasionally trippy jams and use of texture and space.

The three vocal numbers provide contract to the jam sessions. Drummer/vocalist Ann Bernath has a decent folksinger type voice and does an especially nice job on "This Time". The title track "Eris" features Ann's spoken-word warning to 'beware your desire for the golden apple' while also singing the goddess of discord's siren song, 'Eris' and 'Calling you' like a haunting mantra over a pulsing midtempo dirge in E minor. Given the improvisational nature of the band, the songs don't have strong beginnings or endings, but do display nice lyrical and melodic ideas. More work on the arrangement of the vocal numbers would really help the songs sound a little less unfinished.

Probably the most unusual aspect of the band's sound is the keyboard work. More percussive than melodic, at times resembling Sun Ra's free jazz, a lot of the keyboard playing could be compared to the sound of sheets of rain falling on the keys (another comparison that came to mind was the sound of hailstones landing on a dulcimer). The effect is hypnotic at times but jarring at others, especially on the vocal tracks. I was much more impressed with the guitar work throughout the album. Although there are no typical guitar solos, David Bernath uses a lot of imaginative tones, tastefully mixing clean & distorted textures with acoustic guitars to drive the band's riffs.

I wasn't sure what to make of Eris when I first gave it a spin. The minimalist experimental style isn't really my cup of tea, but I found that it grew on me over the course of a few more listens. It has the feel of a home-recorded or maybe a coffeehouse gig jam session, but is actually very nicely recorded (I'm a stickler for good sounding CDs in the 21st century). Baku Llama are probably not for everyone, but anyone who wants to relive some of the experimental and slightly psychedelic homegrown roots of prog may want to fire up the black lights and lava lamps and give them a listen.

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 Eris by BAKU LLAMA album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.47 | 10 ratings

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Eris
Baku Llama Eclectic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I pretty much agree with The Tīs review about this band. I won this album and I had never heard about this trio of american musicians before. Their mix of krautrock, jazz, avant guard and psychodelic rock is very interesting and well played, but needs some polishing. The music is often good and has its merits, but sometimes get a little boring along the way. What annoys me the most if the fact that drummer Ann Bernath has a beautiful and haunting voice that is used so little in the entire CD. Her singing is one of the albumīs highlights.

The very repetitive riffing of all tracks makes this record hard to listen. There is little variation and most of the playing is somewhat contrite. I must say I like those cyclical, minimalistic tones once in a while, but some more harmonies, better and more inventive arrangements would be quite welcomed. This is a CD to be heard in parts. There are good ideas and I enjoyed most of them, but I can hardly listten to it all they way through. Eris is more promising than anything. Those guys are talented, no doubt about it. And also got the chops.They just have to develop their songwriting abilities and make some bolder arrangements. ~

Iīm looking forward to listen to their future releases. As a starting point, Erin is a good efford. 3 stars.

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 Eris by BAKU LLAMA album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.47 | 10 ratings

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Eris
Baku Llama Eclectic Prog

Review by The T
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars BAKU LLAMA's debut shows some promise, but they still have a long way to go before becoming an excellent addition, in my opinion.

The music, as described above, has elements of jazz, psicodelic rock, krautrock, and other genres here and there. For the most part, it's instrumental, with just a few tracks featuring vocals. The sounds are very spacey, kind of narcotic, and very dense. The tracks tend to be very mono-thematic and repetitive, with dynamics, improvisation and textures being the only elements that bring about any change within them.

Two things bother me about BAKU LLAMA's music: one, related to the music itself, is the poorly developed themes and the lack of variation in the structures of the tracks. All songs start with a theme, usually on keys or guitar over a pulsing, menacing, distorted bass and softer drums, and this theme remains the only one throughout the entire track, with no secondary themes whatsoever. The only changes are in intensity, in textures (though not that elaborated) and in the soloing that goes over the main rhythmic section. Usually it is the keyboard the instrument that takes the theme through different stages, all of them very similar to each other. The variation work is not that efficient, and we end up with songs that sound like recorded jamming sesions. I'll be honest: I have played music very similar to this one with a band some friends and I used to have, mostly for jamming purposes.

The second thing that bothers me about this release is related, or actually maybe the reason that it happens, to the first one. The musicianship is still slightly choppy in some players here. The vocals are fine, but they don't appear too often. The guitars are ok but are hardly interesting; the bass plays good lines here and there but falls in constant repetition; the drums are appropriate but lack variation; and finally, the keyboards, the instrument that could make or break this album, sounds like it was played by someone still on the early stages of learning. When the music is repetitive and everything depends on the skills of the solist to make a track interesting, repetitive keyboards are not the answer. I've heard people who don't play keyboards play solos exactly like some on this record, with two fingers, ascending and descending a scale. There are only a few moments when the keyboardist sounds like he has complete control over his intrument.

There are some great ideas recorded on this album, but the lack of development hurts them. The start of most tracks is nothing short of mesmerizing, but constant lack of change makes them become repetitive. The band manages to create music that takes us back to the 70's or 60's, reminds us of the THE DOORS of "The End" or "Not to touch the earth", plays discordant chords, builds tension with menacing bass lines, but some thematic development, at least the most minimal one, would've helped the experience become a much more rewarding one.

As it's a debut, I'll give it 3 stars. If this had been recorded by a seasoned band, I'd have given it 2. But I hear a lot of promise in BAKU LLAMA. I hope they can correct what's wrong and really create a fantastic album the next time around, and I'm sure they have it within them.

This band has a lot of ideas, they just have to learn how to make better use of them.

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 Eris by BAKU LLAMA album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.47 | 10 ratings

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Eris
Baku Llama Eclectic Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Different kind of prog, and it's great!

Nowadays i could say that the internet is one of the best tools that a band can use in order to let the world know about it's music, being here in ProgArchives has really an advantage since here we can discuss with a lot of prog lovers and connossieurs, even with some band members that are here. So i want to thank Richard Whitehurst from Baku Llama for letting me (us) know about their music which believe me is really interesting, so i suggest you to click in the thread where you can listen to Baku Llama's Eris.

Eris was their first of 2 albums so far and was released in 2007, they are a 3-member american band with trained and of course talented musicians, Ann Bernath on drums, piano in some tracks and vocals, David Bernath on guitars and bass, and Richard Whitehurst on keyboards.

Eris features 13 tracks and a total time of over 1 hour of excellent music. It opens with Discord which is kind of an introduction and lasts just a minute and a half, it is an instrumental passage with soft keyboard sound making a cool atmosphere.

Hamatsa has a dark feeling on it, it starts softer with piano introduction, a constant drumming and little by little it is progressing and becoming a little bit more aggressive due to the guitar sound, then the music goes in a rollercoaster where you will listen to different intensities, where you may think the song will explode, it suddenly calms down, and sounds very cool.

Betrayed starts with a soft acoustic guitar playing and it is the first song that features vocals and that gives the music a different flavour, the song goes basically with the same structure, that acoustic guitar, some keyboard tones here and there and a single but nice drumming.

Punch It starts with a kind of funky acoustic guitar and actually i think it follows the previous song style. But this is a shorter and non-lyric track, you will hear to vocals but as i said without vocals, some claps on the song that make me move my head and enjoy what im listening to. A pretty catchy song i may say.

Eris the title track has again that dark feeling that i found on song 2, a dark atmosphere this time accompanied with some vocals, at 1:30 we will listen to spoken words and during the whole song we will find an excellent progression in the music, i like a lot what they can do with their instruments, i don't mean they play something that sounds like a virtuoso, but they play with the sounds, the different sounds their instruments can do. I really like this song and it's atmosphere.

Six to Midnight starts with a delicate piano playing, some soft drumming and then an aggressive guitar playing, this is another great track, it is instrumental and i believe this track shows the eclecticism of the band, there are moments where the song slows down and the music it's about to dissapear, but then it raises again and becomes more powerful, like an stop and go, at the second half of the song where it becomes more aggressive, it reminds me a bit to a part of Pink Floyd's Echoes mainly due to the guitar and drums.

This Time returns with the nice acoustic guitar playing as well as the vocals, what i found cool in the album is the order of the songs, when you believe the next song will have the same dark atmosphere, they surprise you with a calm and softer one, like this track 7 which is a beautiful melody.

The Rite has again that dark feeling, but then is complemented with some keyboard notes that if you listen to it with nice headphones you will be caught by the music itself, and it will become a visual music song full of passages, there are moments where i think the band simply make an improvisation, they experiment a lot and the result is very cool.

Discord Resolved is the other shorter track, sounds alike to the first one, just a piano sound that will last over a minute.

Dreameater along with the provious song, it is like a flashback to the first two songs of the album, which in my opinion sound very alike, with the same form, which does not mean that is repetitive or boring, on the contrary, i believe it was done on purpose by the band in order to give the album a perfect structure, in this song we will listen again to a constant drumming, some guitars making progress, and the always accurate keyboard playing.

Torrential is a different and experimental track where the band uses a slit drum and recorder, a nano piano and keyboards, so you can imagine it is basically a keyboard oriented song, which sometimes sounds conventional but it is nice anyways.

Side Two, with this song we are almost reaching the end of the album, this is a 9-minute epic and probably one of the best tracks of the album. It is another experimental track where the music can be visual and where the band's members experiments with their instruments and sounds. The song has it's ups and downs, and what i really like in this albums i that sense of thinking that when the song is progressing and going up and up, it suddenly calms down and starts again, after all you dont know what will happen the next 10 seconds, so it is very nice.

Tragic Mask is the last song of this excellent album, and here it reminds me a bit to some King Crimson improv moments, the music is played softly and with a delicate sound, and it is a nice song to end the album, it has some melancholy on it, it is like their form of saying goodbye.

I am happy with this album, the music here is different from the classic or conventional style of prog, and as Richard Whitehurst himself told me, they are very proud of the album, and after listening to it i am sure they must be proud of it. Highly recommendable, a 4 solid star album.

Enjoy it!

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 Devour My Evil Dream by BAKU LLAMA album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.00 | 2 ratings

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Devour My Evil Dream
Baku Llama Eclectic Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Devour My Evil Dream is the first release from California based trio Baku Llama.

The music here seems to be influenced by jazz and krautrock, as well as synth-based new age music; with some psychedelic touches at times.

The music is mostly on the dark side; and at times can be on the simplistic side. The first two and last two tracks on this album really doesn't work for me; but the 5 songs in the middle are highly enjoyable atmospheric and dreamy tunes; all of them with some dark and eerie touches that makes them captivating.

Unlike the following album Eris, this release is an all-instrumental effort, and quite a few of the compositions here can be found in a more developed and elaborate version on that release.

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 Eris by BAKU LLAMA album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.47 | 10 ratings

BUY
Eris
Baku Llama Eclectic Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars 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. Light and dark, harmony and disharmony, structured and chaotic, grim and beautiful - all contrasting pairs to be found on this record....and then some.

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

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