(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 Surfacewill certainly be worth watching out for in 2002. Our feature reviews the entire album and incorporates interviews withGarrett 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.comhere.