Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bogdo Ula Album Reviews

guitarist Samuli Kristian
drummer Ivan Horder
bassist Jean Ruin

Bogdo Ula – Charge

For starters this record begins with giving me a vibe of Bill Frisell’s “Powertools” band, mixed with Vernon Reid’s “Living Colour.”  The music fits in the middle of many genres, which would make it great to be in a touring circuit along the same lines that Medeski Martin and Wood or The Bad Plus have opened up doors for more jazz (ish) groups to be heard by non-jazz listeners.   I’m still only in on the first track, and am reminded of Shawn Lane, Jeff Sipe and Jonas Hellborg’s rockish and raucous power trio. 

The guitar sound is laden with effects, used to perfectly compliment the music, and the mix has a reminiscent sound of great rock records (possible older 80s/90s ones, but cleaner).  This music is high energy, and has that simmering intensity in its sound, even in the slower and more meditative numbers like the opening of “Omnogovi Zone.”

This music to me has some direct roots in the 1960s psychedelic, but through more modern filters, and more free veins.  There are moments of open rubato that would sound like pure avant garde, but the tonality keeps it inside for the listener to grab onto.  I’m curious what guitar players Kristian checks out and derives his own influence from while listening to this. 

The trio is very much in the tradition of the guitar trios, with possibly more group interplay than some rhythm sections backing a lead guitar player.  On “Stratosphere” there is some open trading between the bass and guitar, giving the bassist Jean Ruin more room to shine.  The title is maybe an homage to Jeff Beck?

I’m pursuing their website while listening to this record “Charge” (with some rocking Amethyst rock!)  The drummer Ivan Horder has listed some of his poetry on the site to check out, while the guitarist Samuli Kristian has some of his paintings uploaded.  Already this makes me give the band “mad props” so to speak, on being multi-media aristists.  With some of my research recently into art and music, I believe musicians who are conscious and influenced by more things outside of music (like poetry, art, movies, theatre, literature, math, science, etc…) the more they have to bring to the table and develop.  It’s a really great website overall which you can check out at the top of the page. 

Thinking about how the freeness of the group comes mostly from the waves of rhythmic pulses and drives, whereas the pitch material seems very tonal, and in the blues/rock vein (but more advanced harmonically, like jazz), giving it a unique sound.  I’m almost curious what this band would sound like with like a kick ass, 1970s styled rock vocalist (like a Robert Plant, Freddie Mercury, ie…), real potential for more weirdness!! 

There is a certain underwater feeling of this, like the waves from before, it’s like an undersea rock trio, and the pulsations you here are varied due to the physics of how sound moves underwater.  The drums could be tremors from nearby plate movements, the bass some animal low end sonar, and the guitar the dolphin sounds.  I’m not letting the tune title “Nautical Twilight” influence this, nor that I watched “The Cove” last night, no influence at all (sarcasm). 

I’m paying attention to the rhythmic structures, and I’m curious how things are written/mapped out, and if there is sheet music, or is it taught by ear.  I always wonder just how free certain things are, or are not.  There is great listening across the board, as musicians are filling in the gaps and leaving space for one another, or teams of duos (say like drums and bass playing a groove together, and guitar floating over the top) versus the other member.  Really great trio communication!!

As I get to the tune “Jade” I’m starting to hear more noises, more feedback, more enjoying the sounds of the noise, then necessarily playing in a tonality, it’s getting more, while staying in, but going out. 


I’m onto the second disc, and already it seems a little freer than Charge, and it opens with a bang!  The drums are incredibly active on this first track, as the guitar plays more sustained lines and the bass fills in the rest.  It must be a powerful act to see live!  Quirky start to a second track, funky primus-y, with a disjunct dance groove (think Zappa’s live dance contests).  This track, “sounds from the moonbog”  has more cries and more emotive guitaristry, that could be the alien shouting for help in his foreign tongue (if they have tongues?) while stuck in the bog. 

This record sounds more diverse, at least upon hearing the first few cuts, how on “from now on we move only at night” starts with harmonics and shimmering chorus, going into a film noir sound world, and giving the listener space to relax and come down before the tune builds up into a rock fury. 

I don’t know if this record is more politically themed or charged, but looking at the song titles, and the song of the recording, it does seem to have more drive, more emotion, and in general more desperation to create and to be.  I’m digging the ragged energy of this group giving it their all. 

I like the funkiness and freeness of “my heart is on my sleeve” the way the bass and guitar are hooking up it sounds more composed that some of the other music I’ve heard.  High levels of communication, and that uptempo ornette’s drum beat going through out.  “Towards the Star” has a slow spacey bluesy vibe, like muddy waters being sent to the moon with extra delay and chorus.  “Dolphian Scale” has more disjunct pick sweeps, frantic bass, broken drumming, that is seemingly coming out of more of a free jazz vibe.  It starts to groove, but breaks apart again, and comes in and out of it.  As the album progresses the tunes are more varied, leading the listener in several directions, sometimes at once.  I highly recommend both these records, and please check out the band!!

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