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Baku Llama - Eris CD (album) cover


Baku Llama


Eclectic Prog

3.48 | 13 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

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.

usa prog music | 3/5 |


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