Jared C. Balogh
I am the Ship//I am the Sham
Nowaki Recordings, 2014
If you’re paying attention so far, you’ll have noticed that I recently posted a review for the new EP by Aniqatia, entitled Erratics. This is a band that features the extraordinary guitar work and songwriting/improv genius of Jared C. Balogh, who has also been a prolific solo artist, whose various albums I’ve reviewed here and there, on Independent Review. I doubt that I’ve reviewed every album he’s done, since, for one thing, he had made many before I was even hip to his brand of avant-garde, post-post-bop jazz guitar noodling, much of which has a feel of improv throughout. Anyway, around the same time that Aniqatia came out with Erratics, Balogh was also had at work on another solo recording, which is available now, for free (!) –simply by going to http://www.fma.org or http://www.archive.org from where you may download it! It’s a real treat that this truly, fiercely independent artist is not playing the music-industry game, seeking fortune and fame by sucking up to major, corporate labels who sign up promising young acts, i.e., bands who have a great sound, sometimes they’re really innovative, unique and bring a fresh perspective to the fore, which really piques the interest of listeners, who soon become part of the solid cult-like fan base and, which is, a lot of the time, enough of a spark to boost the confidence of the band or artist and, like a feedback loop, the artist(s) keep on putting out more and, ultimately, better stuff that, through the very wondrous effect of word-of-mouth, increases that fan base and by incessant touring, recording and without ever having to do silly things like show up on commercial radio stations around the country, to plug their major label release, so they’d show up, give a little interview at the local station w/the morning show DJs and maybe stick around after the interview and, as a little memento, would set-up gear in a not-being-used studio and do an acoustic version of one or two of their big “hits”. Then, over the next year or, at least until they became old news, the station would play these “exclusive” acoustic versions.
But, Jared doesn’t do local corporate morning shows (or any shows on those places) – neither does any self-respecting, unique band who doesn’t have to rely on hype or corporate PR promo. Like I wrote, word-of-mouth is a powerful tool and when the word spreads around a college campus or high school or even among certain groups within these institutions (or an office environment, etc.), a band can find that, between one tour and the next, they may be back to an audience twice the size. All it took was the word spreading like wildfire that “these guys are great” and that “they kick ass live” and so on.
Well, consider this a sort of “word-of-mouth” gesture, if you will: I’ve gone through a number of Jared’s albums and each one has an amazing sound to it: a unique, unboxed style that you just cannot pigeonhole. I suppose the closest way to get to a “label” for it would be to say that it strikes a “chord” with those who are into stuff like Ornette Coleman or Pat Metheny or other jazz artists, but, mixed with avant-stylings of Brian Eno, Robert Fripp and Adrian Belew – and more. These are just names that come to mind, but I don’t mean to imply that Balogh sounds like them, per se. I just am saying that, if you dig some of those names, you’re likely to be turned onto Jared’s great guitar craft too.
With this newest three-song EP, Jared isn’t bringing us a long opus or anything, he’s just, possibly (I’m not sure, exactly), coinciding with the release of Erratics, the album by Aniqatia, the band with whom he played. (See review for Erratics here, on Independent Review, for more information on that).
The three tunes here are: “Nunquam Revolvo”, “Shifting Patterns and Challenge” and, to round it out, The Ship and the Shaman”. The first two clock in at 12:30 and 10:58, respectively, while the last track is only 1:43. So, while it may “only” be three tracks long, you get two drawn out tunes that feature Balogh’s signature frenetic, loose, improv-laden avant-jazz-style, while “The Ship and the Shaman” provides a kind of smooth landing for the ending, bringing you back down to earth easily.
Glad to see that he’s keeping busy and diversifying a bit, too, as with Aniqatia. So, whether or not you got around to hearing Erratics, if you’re a Jared Balogh fan (or even if you’ve not heard him), I’d recommend this, as a worthwhile vehicle from which to start – or continue. –KM.