Artist: Bryan Deister
Title: Spines of the Heart
format: digital / CD
keywords: Rock / electronic / sing & songwriter, Experimental Rock / vocals
artist website: www.bryandeister.com
Spines of the Heart is a double album by classically trained musician, composer, producer and singing lyricist Bryan Deister and is pretty much massive, so huge even that you wouldn’t think anyone would be nuts enough to give it a track by track review. But to proof that we aren’t ‘anyone’ here is a huge in depth review for all the 22 tracks on the release:
Bryan Deister’s album starts with a song named ‘all that I have’, a song whose lyrics seem to showcase the artist in an emotional state. In the fragile sounding words he checks out all his assets, coming to the conclusion that all he had left are only his memories. In that sense Bryan Deister clearly is a bit of a poet, perhaps even a bit of a dreamer because Bryan probably forgot that next to memories, he (according from what I’m hearing) has also plenty of talent left.
From the very first second the track seems to easily captivate my attention; it delicately defines sincere sounding emotion through the use of hypnotic electronic music, in harmonious combination with a voice that is clearly channeling the expressionistic side of the artist’s soul.
The man isn’t afraid to have his heart open for others to look at & the bed of electronic melody that he expresses himself on is clearly an extension to what the artist had been thinking and feeling. Even though the track stays calm and minimal, (perfect to provide an intimate headspace) it does nicely progress and evolve into an emphatic buildup.
The next track ‘Responding Well’ also travels an emotional path, although here the artist seems to skip the minimal setup and opt more for a fuller sound production. It starts very well with a synthesized flute-like melody that could generate tears when teamed up with a dramatic event or content. It’s not just the melody but also the choice of sounds that makes it into a scene of serenity.
When the mood is set Bryan Deister inserts a fragile brushy electric rhythm to take its listeners deeper into this explorative journey. Bryan’s voice comes in like a dream, nicely flowing on the infrastructure of gentle sweetness. The insertion of lovely deeper acidic baselines really seem to trigger a state of dreamlike euphoria which then gets kindly busted by a whole army of Bryan Deister clones. In my honest opinion; I felt as if they all came a bit out of a sudden, waving their singing voices into each other like a competition of who is the best one of them all.
Then the album continues with a track named ‘in her eyes’ in which Bryan’s voice proofs not only to be able to take the lead, but also knows how to take care of the musical backdrop. Effectively molding his vocal presence into the shape of an instrument and with ease upping up the game by providing interesting harmonics to underline the prominent moment within the lyrics when he sings that ‘he can see him in her eyes’.
The album turns slightly darker with the colder sounding synth pads used in a track named ‘Have you’. Luckily the cooler sound does provide some warmth through the saddening melody in which Bryan provides the voice of a male angel on top. To top this one off, he teamed up his clean and smooth voice with a slick and neath sounding programmed beat: if this is dark, than it certainly isn’t unpleasant.
‘Silent Screams’ comes in swinging with a prominent fat bass, something so up swiping that it clearly brings out the inner rocker out of Bryan Deister. And when this rocker comes out he clearly has a lot of joy slaying the track with wild solos that are rough and cool, clearly orchestrated to lift a roof of a building!
Another side of the artist can be heard in his song ‘Approaching‘, here he brings his pretty tonal voice on top of a precious sounding piano melody, clearly creating a scene that depicts Bryan at his most naked. Half way through, he will wildly throw back all his clothes with extroverted flavors as he successfully twists it around into a robust bombastic ending. In case you had been wondering: Electric guitar is definitely included!
With ‘Brighter Dawn’ we can strangely whiteness the more classical trained background of the artist responsible. He sets on a minimal destruction of music a nice package of beautiful vocal harmonies. Here he proofs that with minimal needs he is easily able to create something magical by just using his lungs, mouth, knowledge and vocal chords.
In ‘Into The Sky’ he creates a full scale choir of himself. There could be other singing people involved, but with such a flexible voice as Bryan Deister, there might be a big chance that it’s all him. The singing creates an atmosphere that reminded me of accidentally walking into a church service. If you are used to it it’s probably fine, but if not; it might be a bit awkward. To clearly sew this track to the rest of the more electric sounding album the artist seem to have resorted to shoveling a electric beat underneath this vocal galore. It sounds a bit out of place, as if it belonged elsewhere. In fact I even had to double check if there was some kind of error going on, or that perhaps another track had been playing in the background at the same time. (Which wasn’t the case…) Let’s say; sometimes, less is more.
‘Gone’ is probably the most heavy one this album. With shocking lyrics like ‘gonna kill myself in your eyes’ you can easily feel that it can’t be bleaker than this. However the blatant heaviness is done so over the top that it becomes a bit unbelievable, resulting that instead of getting sucked into a depression I hardly couldn’t refrain myself from laughing. It was making me laugh as it came so unexpected, so absolutely out of nowhere; the absurdity to hear such a statement being made over and over again in a single song was just (to me) something unheard of. Maybe it’s me having a dark sense of humor, but it came more across as something hilarious.
Where ‘Gone’ was sounding unbelievable, ‘Come’ did sound as the total opposite; very real. It’s a hauntingly short track that has this hypnotic flow generated by piano and rhythm on which Bryan Deister puts down a spell on us to make us come over…. And probably never return! It’s very dark and spooky!
Another song that seems to drape itself into the darkness is ‘Today‘ which contains a certain heaviness that cannot come undone easy. The dark piano tones with Bryan Deister singing that ‘he is the only god’ is as astonishing, as it is frightening: clearly the work of a great lyricist.
‘Nobody Angel’ starts of politely with a lightweight sparkling medieval piano bit, before stepping deeply into a dramatic work with heavy strings to help gain a powerful music momentum, with sparkling melodic bits laid down into the mix. On top of all this Bryan Deister drags his soul across and gives it all he has in the vocal department. When he is done a warm sounding electric guitar underlines it all with a awesome solo! When all is blown over the peace returns when our artist returns the music to chamber style piano bits.
Then there is ‘wait‘ which captures the artist in acapella for with his voice embedded in vocal effects. It has a high Disney aspect, something you would expect to hear at a cozy moment in an old animation, perhaps the moment when Bambi realizes that his mother got shot by hunters…
Can we have a drumroll please? As now it’s time for track 14 on this lengthy double album & it is absolute my personal favorite on this gigantic collection of songs! It’s named Emily and starts with enough warmth generated by plenty of atmospheric elements to make a cold heart light up again. Instead a sublime bubbling kind & gentle melody line makes way Bryan Deister’s voice to sing a mesmerizing song full of sincere sounding love.
The whole vibe gets nicely carried away thanks to a perfect rhythm that makes the music swing like a lover holding a loved one in his or her arms. It is very kind and gentle, making me think that Bryan Deister really must love this ‘Emily’ to be able to have written such a wonderful track. His heart is clearly fully into it!
‘What You Want’ is unfortunately making me think a little bit too much of listening to a Thom Yorke track. That might of course not such a bad thing, if it wasn’t for the fact that there is already a Thom Yorke out there. There is no doubt that there are many tracks throughout the album that have many hints of being influenced by the Radiohead front man, which I hope that in the next upcoming album (out of respect for Bryan Deister’s talent) will be left more behind. With so much skill, music knowledge, and music abilities it must be doable to generate a style that is more unique then going for a music path that is already occupied or walked upon.
The next track ‘The Bread’ goes a bit back into the dark and rockier sides of the artist his music. It has this evil and grim sounding melody and Bryan Deister’s voice comes across as a bewitching one. The next one named ‘Always Further’ has this nice lounge vibe going on with percussion and a piano loop with soft and high pitch singing on top.
Then there is a very odd duck on the album and it’s called ‘Seven Eight’ which comes totally out of the blue with a theatrical playfulness that does seem a bit out of place among the others, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a lot of fun. It comes across like something that wouldn’t be out of place a Broadway show about a funky mouse and a bluesy cat. The music is easily the happiest among all the tracks on the album, bright, colorful and hectic like a computer game.
‘Nothing More’ is clearly filled with emotion; a combination of love and sadness. The music gets an organic sincere sounding vocal performance in which Bryan Deister sings ‘dreams of you in my mind’ and serves up the longest notes from his lungs. Believe me or not but this track actually moved me to tears, it is sounding so sincere and beautiful.
Next up is ‘Sure’ which is a very short song, one with nice percussion but doesn’t seem to go anywhere or really register. It for ‘Sure’ sounds a bit like a filler, especially after being placed after such a great emotional sounding track.
‘Vacant Eyes’ is another highlight on the album, going for a fairly minimal approach the sound is tinier and intimate. It sounds young, warm and positive; a perfect song to be exchanged among lovers.
The last and longest track (+-13 minutes?) is ‘Apart From Me’ which comes across as the material you would hear and see performed if Bryan Deister’ would hit that big stage of a festival. It has all the facets of a mini-concert; a impressive calm minimal introduction in which he asks to go ‘where the oceans flow’ which soon enough makes way for virtuous guitar riffs along with synthesized melodies. Then to calm the imaginative massive croweds down in await for more, Bryan Deister slips in a fragile break before channeling his inner Freddy Mercury with heavy guitar and big drums that really give this the presence of a huge headlining stage performance. When he brings in a stage organ for extra groove Bryan Deister’s music really goes into ‘lift off’ mood by clearly delivering a symphonic highlight as the final notes of this voluminous album!
You can obtain this album from the artist official website: