One wouldn’t expect a classically trained musician to release an experimental rock album. And yet that’s exactly what Redondon Beach (California) musician and songwriter Bryan Deister did with his new release, Spines of the Heart, an offering as influenced by classical music as it is by Kurt Cobain. Available digitally as of last December, every aspect of the entire project was taken on by Deister himself, from writing to vocals, mixing and mastering. Deister’s goal is to create dark, thoughtful, and well-written music as Nirvana, My Bloody Valentine, and Weezer did.
I found this album exhausting to listen to, perhaps because it counts 22 tracks and that the closing number lasts 13 minutes. I can’t help but wonder if it’s because I didn’t resonate with the music, or because the music was too thick to wade through for such a long length of time, and that, as a 90 minute-long double album, Spines of the Heart should only be listened to for only a couple of tracks at a time.
Dark and brooding he definitely managed to accomplish. “All That I Have” kicks off the album with a distorted guitar, a somewhat dissonant keyboard, and drums that seem to be crawling around to which Deister’s high-ranging, almost whispered vocals offer an almost creepy contrast. The vocals again do a lot in setting a brooding mood on “In Her Eyes”.
Well-written is a matter of both skill and taste. Skill-wise, listeners will no doubt appreciate the sometimes very intricate melodies and surprising twists and turns. One such turn is the punk rock element in “Responding Well” and “Seven Eight”, while “Have You” features vocals that seem to lead listeners into a meditation routine.
The somewhat blues-tinged elements in “Silent Creams”, the almost seductive elements in “Nobody Angel”, and the orchestra in “Brighter Dawn” are other twists offered in Spines of the Heart. As for skill, the piano on “Into The Sky” is impressive, as is the percussive backbone on “The Bread”. Taste-wise, while one can appreciate the influences Deister mentions in various interviews and press releases, they only appear sporadically throughout.
There seems to be multiple personalities on this album which reflect well the human experience but also make for an exhausting listen. Perhaps Spines of the Heart, a two-disc, 22-track-long album, should have been instead presented as two or more completely different albums that focus on certain aspects of the human experience which could be brought together under an umbrella collection. This might help bring to the fore both Deister’s talent and vision.
Pictures provided by Independent Music Promotions.