Friday, March 2, 2012

Album Review: "Baobab" by Baobab

Baobab is the self-titled self-produced debut from
Durham's Baobab, released in February 2012
There must be something in the water out here in the triangle seeing as fantastic new music has been popping up all over the place.  I became enthralled with Baobab after I came late into their set at WKNC's Double Barrel Benefit Day Party, their minimalist experimental style is compelling to say the least.  It's filled with multi-cultural influences and a wonderful blend of acoustic and electronic sounds all capped off with Phil Torres' soothing vocals and catchy melodies.

This fourteen track debut album is a self-produced gem out of Durham that combines aspects of folk, electronic, experimental, and world music.  It sounds like a conglomeration influences that could very easily produce a half-hazard release, but Baobab has outweighed my expectations completely.  Each track is a stand-out, making for phenomenal cohesion.  The juxtaposition of this wall of sound with raw acoustic guitars layered over it makes for an incredible soundscape that is far easier than expected to find yourself lost in.  Filled with reverberated worldly chants that can often sound afro-pop-ish, the duo of Baobab has done a wonderful job of making themselves stand out in the triangle music scene.  One could argue they're one of the most diverse acts in the region, while they fit a current archetype of a two-person band that sounds much fuller in studio than live, they still pull off their performances wonderfully with a backing track.

Tracks like "Brownian Motion", "Getting To Know You", and "Music For A Movie" are album standouts with their excellent lyricism and lush textures.  Torres' lyricism is something that can easily be overlooked on these tracks since the instrumentation is so encapsulating, but that's almost downright criminal because he's a phenomenal writer.  Baobab's website contains some of Torres' writings including articles on music as well as information on his soon to be released book, "A Crisis of Faith: Atheism, Emerging Technologies, and the Future of Philosophy".  While it's unfortunate that the lyrics may take a backdrop for some, it's an excellent thing as well because it allows for listeners to choose between immersing themselves in the sounds being produced by the instrumentation or to focus in on the wonderful lyrics.  Tracks like "Spring Forward" really provide a perfect image of Baobab, it's filled with worldly chants as a backdrop, a constant driving rhythm, wonderful guitar arrangements, and a roller coaster of a melody.

While Baobab is still in it's infancy and first year as a band, one can only imagine where this band will find itself in time.  The duo of Phil Torres and Whitney Trettien have infinite directions to take this band with boat loads of potential.  I'm phenomenally excited to see where this band goes and to hear the music that comes from these brilliant minds.  You can purchase a hard copy of their album with those snazzy handmade covers or you can download it for free on their band camp.

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