Bryan Deister is a classically trained musician currently studying Composition at the Berkeley School of Music. His classical training has driven his challenging, personal, and highly ambitious new record Spines of the Heart.
The record is a lofty 23 songs that run the gamut from spacey trip-hop to gut busting guitar fuzz, to shoegaze cloud computing. I’m not sure what that means, but….23 songs?
I must admit that the first time I went through the record I thought for sure Radiohead and Muse had a figment music baby and I was the adoptive, but reluctant, parent. However, I was painting my bathroom at the time and did not give it a fair chance, or it was the fumes…. either way a little trip-hop baby was running around my ear canal and I couldn’t shake it out.
On the second listen through I found that Deister does some really great things, particularly with his voice, and the way he plays with open space. “All That I Have” is a soaring bouquet of wet roses, falling in slow motion, showcasing Deister’s vocals with a heavy wink to Thom Yorke. “Have You” is a close-eyed waltz down a dark hallway with the comfort of an organ in the background to show you home. “Approaching” is a haunting, piano driven song confronting the listener until the drone of guitars punches them in the gut. “Into the Sky” offers harmonies reminiscent of The Beach Boys Pet Sounds, but not nearly as perfect. “Nobody Angel” begins with elements of that classical training, and a beautiful string arrangement sprinkled throughout with the chorus offering some of that Muse comparison.
With all that said above, Spines of the Heart is way too long. I have read that it is a deeply personal record, and I applaud that vulnerability in an artist, but a lot of it is slow, and bogged down, and sad… and doesn’t resonate as well as it should. It could easily be a great record of 10 songs rather than a bloated record of 23, but there are enough good things going on here to give a listen.
And, check out some other killer new music we’ve dug up for your enjoyment here: RARA’s Fresh Crops
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