Current Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2013 06:34:08 -0500
Wouldn’t the world be a fantastic place if each of us had the ability to craft a great album on a whim? Baobab’s Phil Torres makes it look easy. Listening to BAYOHBAHB, one forgets that the record is essentially a solo project.
BAYOHBAHB is lush from beginning to end, full of ideas and never wanting for direction. Intricate melodies wash over each other, string riffs and keyboard flourishes collide haphazardly. Rhythms flirt with the edge of bedlam but never fall off.
The album shares more than just its enunciation with last year’s Baobab — it’s a triumphant return to the world of joyful acoustics and quirky electronics that Torres first dreamed up on that record.
But this time around Torres has grown more comfortable with the setting, confident in his production decisions that only improve the album’s immersive textures. The hyper-processed vocals of “Chincoteague,” the persistent drum loop of “Oceanus Procellarum” and the expertly mixed instrumentals of “Soufriere, St. Pierre” reveal Torres’ growth as a producer.
Every track is named after a place, appropriate since each new song feels like a journey through uncharted lands — it’s impossible to know what to expect around the next corner. Take “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” which opens with a vocal round of “bop” noises, moves on to clicking noises then calmly transitions into a section of distorted bass line and dueling acoustic riffs.
And despite its left-field sound, the record is coherent. Torres’ devotion to texture pays off, with world music motifs and his ever-present, kind croon tying a bow on the package. Best of all, the songwriting never once gets sacrificed amid the noise.
Dive Verdict: ★★★★☆