(07 June 2001, revised 11 May 2002) Balligomingo is the new electronic/vocal musical project of producer /
programmer, Garrett Schwartz and co-producer/guitarist, Vic Levak. Similar to the
Canadian group Delerium, Balligomingo combine pulsating rhythms, sonic string
textures, synth vibes, and some of the best female vocalists on the North American
continent to create a mysterious and haunting listening experience.
Garrett, who hails from Los Angeles and Vic, a resident of Vancouver,
B.C. first met during a Kristy Thirsk show at the 1999 NewMusicWest conference in
Vancouver. Garrett was in Vancouver at the time working on a track with the group
Delerium and with singer Kristy Thirsk. Vic Levak was then producing Kristy
Thirsk's solo material. Upon meeting, the two discovered that they shared a
similar creative musical vision. Balligomingo's music has already been featured
on the compilation albums Underwater Vol. 1 and Elevation 3.
The promotional album reviewed here is merely a preview of the
forthcoming full-length release planned for 2002. Initially, Balligomingo
expected to release a full-length album in April 2001 on an independent label.
However, after word of the band got out, Balligomingo were signed to a major
label deal with BMG. Currently, Balligomingo plans on re-recording some of
the tracks so as to incorporate live strings and other instrumentation.
Although the future full-length release is highly anticipated, the 8-track
promo album provides an exciting taste of what's to come.
"Falling," the first track on the album, features chilling
classical-based string arrangements, a seductive mid-tempo groove, and
Canadian singer, Beverley Staunton's
devastatingly beautiful voice. Balligomingo leave no doubt as to their ability
to create amazingly heavenly music with this opening piece.
"Heat," featuring Juno Award-winning vocalist
Kristy Thirsk of The Rose Chronicles
and Delerium is a driving yet languorous track that recalls Madonna's "Justify
My Love." As with her performances on the Delerium tracks "Heaven's Earth,"
"Wisdom," "Enchanted," and "Incantation," Kristy again demonstrates why her
voice has frequently been compared to that of an angel's.
Jennifer Baldwin's lovely vocal contribution makes "Wild
Butterfly" possibly the best track on the album. The sound of soothing
waves at the beginning of the track are quickly replaced by a trance-like
percussion line that is likely to inspire listeners to get up and
dance. Samples from Enigma's "The Rivers of Belief" and a vibrant
piano accompaniment make for a blissful and radiant aural journey.
Closely resembling a slightly slower version of the Delerium
song "Incantation" in both melody and texture, "Lost" showcases the dynamic
and assertive voice of Camille Miller. Again, Vic Levak's guitar work
adds an exotic flavor to the music while Garret Schwartz's synth and
rhythm arrangements are near perfection. Probably the most radio-friendly
song on the album, "Purify" is a lush, warm number that features
Jody Quine on vocals. One
cannot help but be reminded of a more upbeat version of Madonna's
ballad, "Rain" when listening to "Purify."
"Marooned" is another ambient masterpiece. Particularly
impressive is Beverley Staunton's brief vocal phrasing which may be one
of the most deliriously beautiful 25 seconds of female singing ever
recorded. While "Marooned" deceptively starts out with an epic and
portentous melange of guitar and strings, it quickly settles into a
gentle and thoughtful mode making for a wonderful contrast of sound.
Beverley Staunton once again appears as vocalist and lyricist on
"Beyond," a slightly groovy uptempo track. Here, Beverley's stark
voicings are penetrating while remaining pleasing.
Perhaps what is most impressive about Balligomingo is their
ability to merge the electronic and organic in a way that is enlivening yet
intimate. The use of a variety of talented female vocalists is also
a brilliant stroke, as each singer brings her own measure of character
and distinction to each song through her own voice and lyrics. This
is late night, voluptuous melody-making at its best. Furthermore,
while each song on the album is distinctive, the tracks weave
themselves seamlessly in the ear of the listener. Their preview is certainly a must listen!--Justin Elswick
Balligomingo's album Beneath The Surface
will certainly be worth watching out for in 2002.
Our feature reviews the entire album and incorporates interviews with
Garrett Schwartz and numerous photographs of the seven stunning vocalists involved with the recording. Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com