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TRACK LIST: 1. These Moments 3:36 2. A Time for Rust 5:11 3. Machinery Listens to Love 1:18 4. Black Light Moon 6:29 5. The Art of Contrition 2:31 6. Dreamflesh 6:56 7. Winterlude 1:49 8. The Echo Box 15:21 LINEUP: Greg Massi Ц guitars; vocals; keyboards Adam Letourneau Ц drums, percussion Lauren Flaherty Ц vocals T L Conrad Ц bass Forbes Graham Ц trumpet Jim Fogarty Ц keyboards, piano
Prolusion. BALISET, from the States, is a band-project initiated by former Maudlin Of The Well and Kayo Dot member Greg Massi, who has been working on this material since 2003. Adam Letourneau was the only additional participant of the band at the time when its first album, "A Time for Rust", was issued in the spring of 2009.
Analysis. While reading an interview with main man Greg Massi, it came across that this album started out as a highly metal-inspired venture. Various efforts by bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica were the original inspirations for this side project Ц influences still detectable throughout this album by the knowledgeable fan. However, as time went by the compositions started changing. Massi's tenure in Maudlin Of The Well altered his perceptions of what sounded good or not just as much as time and experience itself, and the individual songs as well as the production as a whole became further and further removed from metal foundations, replaced with a steadily growing plethora of stylistic expressions on the subtle detail level as well as the overriding compositional foundations. The end result belongs everywhere just as well as nowhere really, indeterminate as far as a concise style goes, but in terms of progressive music, art rock is probably the niche best fitting. Riff passages and solos inspired by the aforementioned Iron Maiden have their place alongside bass-driven, sparsely-instrumented themes with noise backdrops and metal-tinged affairs spiced with noise elements and distinct symphonic backdrops. Mood-filled atmospheric pieces, light and dreamy, occur almost back to back with ominous, nightmare-ridden counterparts. And, following a few minutes of noise-scapes added to the last track, we're also served a hidden bonus creation where Massi finds his acoustic guitar and whips up a country-inspired tune. The latter is an exception though; the regular tracks on this CD all explore musical territories more inspiring than the hidden song. However, Massi showcases his strength as a versatile and sophisticated composer in more manners than mere stylistic variations. Subtle and effective utilization of dissonant and disharmonic elements in many songs is another aspect of this production worth noting, as well as the overall nature of it all being challenging despite the strong melodies that add more of a commercial sheen than what's actually present. However, as far as my perception goes, Baliset as a band-project still has a way to go when it comes to harnessing all the creative vitality present. Some production choices seemed strange, like subduing vocals to the point of being barely audible on some segments, and the stylistic variations within the individual compositions seemed superfluous and distracting on some occasions. And as far as the hidden track goes I think this album would have been better without it, which adds up to the verdict of a strong overall effort, with a few details lacking to achieve true brilliance.
Conclusion. This first effort by Greg Massi's new project Baliset showcases a talented outfit, pursuing versatile stylistic expressions that should interest those with a fancy for sophisticated, eclectic art rock spiced with some challenging features, as well as a few nods in the direction of well known metal bands. And, perhaps needless to state, those with a keen interest in the bands Maudlin Of The Well and Kayo Dot should put this venture on their radar as well.
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