BASK is the latest brainchild from two local musical icons, Mike Keneally and Marcelo Radulovich. Both Keneally and Radulovich supply a full array of musical firepower with Keneally playing guitar, piano, synth, bass, and percussion with Radulovich meshing with bass, synth, guitar, electronics, melodica, drum machine, percussion, and saxophone, with both adding vocals on most all of the ten tracks. They are joined by the dynamic drumming of Bill Ray who appears on tracks 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 10, along with Donna Ray who adds her voice on tracks 2 and 5. All the compositions were composed by Keneally and Radulovich, with an additional credit from Ray on “Sit Around a Fire.” The project was recorded and produced by Radulovich, Keneally, and Ray and mixed by Radulovich at Titicacaman Studio in Cardiff by the Sea, California.
It’s a technosonic musical journey of compositional polytonality and polyvalency complemented by intricate arrangements of darting and weaving synthesized, electronic motifs amid lyrics of spoken word and harmonized vocal verses and choruses. You’ll hear elements of clever orchestral interplay akin to everyone from Edgard Varese and Karlheinz Stockhausen to Danny Elfman and Frank Zappa.
You won’t hear any of these tracks on mainstream radio but if you’re a fan of the avant garde filled with many moments of atonality, you’re in for a treat. As a matter of fact, if you take away some of the many atonal orchestrational moments on a few of the tracks, you can hear some garden variety chord progressions with shades of Steely Dan, Sting, or Genesis.
Ray’s drumming cannot be overstated; he’s brilliant in his accompanying the many tricky rhythmic patterns inked by Keneally and Radulovich, especially on “Sit Around a Fire,” firing off syncopated patterns behind the mystical vocal vibe as well as the 6/8 title track, “Bask,” channeling Billy Cobham on both tracks.
Of particular note is the track “DNA of the Fairies,” set to a killer R&B groove, a tune Prince would’ve been proud to have written, sprinkled with obligatory atonal embellishments. Also, the dark lyrical underpinnings of “The Potion,” as if Ozzy Osbourne had stepped to the mic. “Only love can censor the injection of tension of hatred of love.”
Haunting arpeggios appropriately accompany the spoken word on “Always Make It So.” “Streets are a loss…travels a host…step away from the rage and the loss,” garnished with regal guitar chordal cadences and atonal orchestrational polyphony. The free-form rhythmic track, “Permitame,” is drenched with melodica and saxophone motifs, floating gracefully amid the lyrical text in Spanish along with Ray’s superb drum chops à la Mitch Mitchell.
The album concludes with a three-part suite, “Stick It on Pong/Abrasions/Sleep Dragon, the latter reuniting with the short opening track “Wake Up Dragon,” both highlighted by dreamy New-Age piano chordal stabs with the former two sections. It is a plethora of intersecting guitar riffs and electronica mayhem, all creating a frenzied musical finale for those who are eager to hear and take in new refreshing compositional explorations.