It's always a good thing if proceeds from an album release go to an organisation who really need some help. This is also the case with the album Becoming One made by Birzer Bandana. Proceeds from the album will help to feed and care for the stray animals in Lanzarote. You may ask yourself what or who is Birzer Bandana and what can you find music wise on Becoming One.
Birzer Bandana is the collaboration of multi-instrumentalist Dave Bandana and Bradley Birzer. Dave already made a name as one of the two Dave's who released several albums under the moniker of Salander. On this new release he was responsible for writing the music and playing on the bass, guitars, drums, synthesizers, piano, organ, and Mellotron. Moreover he did all of the drum programming and vocal parts. Bradley has written the lyrics and concept. Two guest musicians helped them out. Therefore can you hear contributions from Mick Bennett (who played guitar on one track) and Olga Kent (who played violin on two tracks).
Dave and Bradley have never actually met each other and collaborated through the internet . Something which is very common nowadays in the music business. Birzer lives in America and is a professor at Hillsdale College in Michigan and Bandana is an Englishman who works from the island of Lanzarote. A long distance working relationship doesn't always lead to success. But in this case I can only be positive about what they have achieved without looking into each others eyes. The lyrics and the concept of Bradley were a good starting point for Dave to come up with some very high levelled compositions. Compositions which are without hesitation worth listening to for every proghead. But I guess when you can write music for a concept which is a bit post-apocalyptic sci-fi, a bit psychological and theological, and a whole lot of cathartic, you are inspired all the way!
The album opens very beautifully with Awash and can be described as a rather mellow piece of music on which you can hear for the first time the amazing violin parts of Olga Kent. Dave's guitar parts reminded me of the way Gandalf plays on his electric guitar. It is followed by The Dance, on which you can hear again very beautiful playing on the violin and above all fine parts performed on the acoustic guitar. On 3 To 1 the Mellotron takes the lead and I love it all the way. This is also the track on which guitarist Mick Bennett shows his musical talents! Next up is Wretched (Part One) and has a very beautiful orchestral sound. The song moves more towards the music of Vangelis and again traces of Gandalf can be spotted as well. For those who like more up tempo pieces of music then listen to the following track. On Scenes you can also enjoy a very strong synthesizer solo on which you hardly sit still. More up tempo parts can be heard on the next track as well. Wretched (Part Two) has again very strong and above all beautiful synthesizer solos. Furthermore, this composition has very strong electronic bass parts played on the synthesizer and excellent playing on the Mellotron. The album ends with Imcarnate and again can you hear on this rather mellow track some wonderful Mellotron and piano parts. Finally a great guitar solo in the style of Gandalf ends the song and album in style!
To compare the music of Birzer Bandana on Becoming One with other acts is certainly not something which you do very easily. But coming up with names of Vangelis, Gandalf, Pink Floyd and Talk Talk reveals a bit of what to expect music wise on this release. The best advice is to check out the links that come along with this review and listen for yourself.
As for myself I really had a great time listening to the seven compositions on this release. Hopefully a follow up can be welcomed very soon! Thumbs up!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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