Bagheera – Twelves (CD)

Much like the Just A Fire disc released by Asian Man this last year, “Twelves” is a completely upending of the roots of the record label and a complete step towards a sound for Asian Man that can’t be described as “ska”. Bagheera really just reminds me of a more professional version of The Devil is Electric/Operation Cliff Clavin, albeit with a slightly more experimental edge. By far, the crux of the disc happens during “Not Chasing Ghosts”, which has Theodore during eir’s best Michael Stipe impression while Heather’s vocals are stretched and distorted far enough out of the normal range to give the track a much more ethereal feel.

“Admission/Concession” creates a tripartite disharmonial noise, with Theodore/Heathers voice providing a stark contrast with the sequenced drum beat and strung-out guitar on the track. However, each track on “Twelves” is so different from every other track on the disc that I find it hard to believe that they are all coming from the same band.

“Better At Night” is a punk-romp that goes into a noise-laden Inkubus Sukkubus-esque vocal delivery by Heather. The ability of the guitar during “Better At Night” to stay somewhat constant in the maelstrom of random songs is a quality that is admirable, and really anchors the song down to some key fundamentals. “Solstice”, the penultimate track on “Twelves”, is probably the low point on the disc but still is head and shoulders above ninety percent of the music currently being released. Heather’s spoken-out vocals with a mission provide an opposite the ebb and flow of the distorted guitar. “Idle” os the perfect ending to what could be a perfect album; more straight-forward than the tracks that immediately preceded it, both Heather and Theodore harmonize on this track, alongside a keyboard-esque guitar that plants them firmly in the land of nu-emo music.

With this exploratory able, Bagheera has stopped in a myriad of different locales, sampled many different styles, and yet can tie this album into one large edifice, one monumental skyscraper of idea and form. In putting “Long Division” first on the CD and “Idle” the last, Bagheera really has made a complete circuit around this world of sound – each track, while completely different from each other, are kindred in their Spartanness as well as general sound. This may be a debut release, but the hands and minds that made this album come to fruition are masterful.

Rating: 8.7/10

Top Tracks: Long Division, Admission/Concession

Bagheera – Twelves / 2004 Asian Man Records / 13 Tracks / http://www.bagheeramusic.com / http://www.asianmanrecords.com / Reviewed 13 March 2004

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