Life Like Thunderstorms
Released on Cassette by Killer Tofu records, 2015
Well, Jared Balogh is at it again: always bringing something new and interesting to the fore and, being a self-releasing, DIY artist, his stuff can be found on sites like Free Music Archive – https://www.freemusicarchive.org/music/Life_Like_Thunderstorms Bandcamp: https://alteredstatereflections.bandcamp.com/album/life-like-thunderstorms-awkward-balance-24-bit-wav-version or Archive.org: https://www.archive.org/details/Life_Like_Thunderstorms-AwkwardBalance. One more link that you can get to is the Killer Tofu Records site, where, if you’d like to buy a physical, “hard copy” of Awkward Balance on cassette, go check out: https://www.killertofurecs.storenvy.com/products/14171088-life-like-thunderstorms-awkward-balance.
So, Jared’s new work, Awkward Balance, under the moniker, Life Like Thunderstorms gives off the aura of a whole band doing its thang, together, but, what you are hearing is actually Jared playing all the instruments, being the sole creative force on this one. Using the Life Like Thunderstorms title, one can see the work being differentiated somewhat from Balogh’s solo albums, which are usually instrumental and have a life of their own. That is just one reviewer’s guess, but, it could be. Not that there’s anything sub-par about Awkward Balance that he’d want to distance himself, in name, from. Just a slightly different style. Not too far off, but a good way to expand one’s horizons and keep ’em guessing at the same time.
Life Like Thunderstorms is nearer in style to his work with Aniqatia, a full band, in which Jared played bass, which released some great stuff a little over a year ago: an EP, Erratics, the review for which, one can read here, in I.R.
But with Life Like Thunderstorms, Balogh has gone it alone, creating some fabulous vistas on Awkward Balance. The album starts out with a steady, thundering drum intro and then, a slow, measured rock sound which has reminds me of Joy Division, believe it or not, what with a similar sounding bassline and that mellow baritone voice that sounds a little like Ian Curtis. Next up, “Sneak Attack” has a bit of a faster pulse and some guitar feedback that soon gives way to some ultra-hip vibraphones/marimba that goes well with the edgy guitar licks that after a bit, give way to a nice balance between the vibes and a really smoky bass jam. Then it opens up again, with a bit of blistering guitar riffs, ending abruptly with a cymbal crash which then goes right into the next tune, “Deeply Lucid”; in fact, if you’re not paying attention, you don’t even really notice that it’s gone onto the next tune.
It’s almost as if, after “Resonate”, the next four tunes are all part of one long suite, somewhat reminiscent of the old days, in the late 60s/early 70s when progressive rock stalwarts like Yes and King Crimson put out some of their earlier albums (such as In the Court of the Crimson King, In the Wake of Poseidon and Yes’s The Yes Album or Close to the Edge) where, due more to pressure from the record labels, these longer-than-usual “rock” songs, which would clock in at anywhere from 12 minutes, up to 18 minutes, as in the case with the title track of Yes’s Close to the Edge, these songs were “split up” into several “parts”; breaking these long (for the era) songs which weren’t radio-friendly, three-minute pop singles, into more palatable, 3-4 minute sections, each with a certain sub-title to it.
Anyway, that whole silly gimmick was done away with by 74 or so, with the realization that these songs were not meant to be split up into separate parts, but were wholes, that were supposed to be played in one, long setting, much the way that many a “concept” album was meant to be listened to all in one playing, to appreciate the whole connectedness of it. Well, I’m not saying that, on Awkward Balance, Life Like Thunderstorms were trying to make a “suite” out of these four songs, necessarily, but it surely was a great way to keep one listening in, which wouldn’t have been a hard thing to do anyway, as it was so dreamy, so textured and quite a joy to hear.
The last two songs, “Improv Ambient Bass Jamm in the Key of D” and the closer, “Fleeing Dreams”, were like a dual finale in themselves; a separate piece from the four middle songs.
No matter how one slices it up, though, Awkward Balance is really a brilliant work of fancy that keeps one going back, over and over, picking up more and more elements with each new listen and also just to enjoy again and again. One of the most intriguing parts of listening to a Jared Balogh album the first time out is in wondering just what it will sound like and where it will take you. That’s one of the great pleasures of his sonic experiments: that they’re not predictable in the sense that when you hear about a new release of his you have a good idea of what it’s going to sound like, except in a roughly abstract way. No, not until you actually sit down and push play for the first time, will you be able to figure out just what Jared did this time. That is the mark of one who is always looking to innovate, experiment and who is willing to be as much of an outlier as possible; never being derivative, at least not blatantly; not wearing his influences on his sleeve, but trying, genuinely, to be as original as he can and, in the process, being quite successful at always being able to turn heads and keep one’s attention. Never a dull moment! –KM.