House of Baasa
It's tempting to compare Zambri to Tegan and Sara. Both bands feature siblings singing about love, loss, and the madness found in between. Cristi Jo and Jessica Zambri's vocal performance on "ICBYS" even echoes the Quin sisters' indignant rasp. But the comparisons end there. Zambri have come to throw a match into the ether of traditional pop sensibilities—fearlessly throwing themselves into the fire's path along the way.
Following on the heels of last year's Glossolalia EP, House of Baasa—the band's debut full-length—further expands on Zambri's heaven-or-hell musical mania. The crash of haunted-house electronics and rogue samples are back, but this time it's the voices on display. They prove to be more flexible than previous efforts indicated, alternating between tones that sound crazier than your ex-girlfriend (see opening shot, "All You Maybes"), and majestic, mountain-moving siren calls (check out ballad, "From the Starts").
Named after the biblical tale of a servant who overthrows his master only to commit suicide a week later, House of Baasa centers around the struggle between euphoria and darkness. The canvas of each song shows the mark of the battle, featuring more contrasting spatters than a Jackson Pollock painting. Uptempo, 1980s-leaning "Places" is tempered with an unsettling, arrhythmic grind that takes the song from optimism to unease. On the flipside, the feathery synths of "Hundred Hearts" indicate life beyond the broken heart, soaring over the album's ever-present industrial grind. Then there's "You'll Never Beat Dogs," which folds in on itself, with tribal, percussive beats swirled into a yin-yang pattern of emotional light and dark by a call-and-response that escalates to a fevered pitch. It's a challenging album—one that won't pay dividends for listeners unwilling to tumble down the rabbit hole alongside the band. But for those willing to buy into Zambri's twisted wonderland, it's a thrilling ride. (www.zambri.net)
Author rating: 8/10
Average reader rating: 9/10