Bardo - Andrew McPherson
Don't ask Andrew McPherson how his new album is doing. These days you have to be more specific. The Guelph, Ontario sound designer of eccodek fame just dropped two releases almost simultaneously; Open My Ears, a remix of tracks from Czech-Jewish singer Lenka Lichtenburg's latest called Open My Eyes. McPherson cleverly titled the remix project Lenccodek. Bardo, his 4th solo album arrived hot on in its heels. McPherson sculpts sonic designs for many different voices with the global futures of eccodek and the eccodek remixes for his community of luminaries like Dub Colossus, Transglobal Underground, Vieux Farka Toure, Desert Dwellers and many more. But, the man has a voice of his own. And, what a voice indeed! His baritone is smooth as Canadian whiskey, making him a high demand voice acting talent and a strikingly different singer in a world of tenors. Bardo, which is a state of existence between death and rebirth, reveals McPherson as a deep thinker as well as a musical chameleon. Self-questioning, the lyrics touch on ponderances of loss, war, madness and all the soul-searching that goes into the creation of one's art. In short, he confronts "the need to uncover one's past before venturing into the future”. Framed in more conventional singer/songwriter combo arrangements, Bardo nevertheless reflects McPherson's dogged pursuit of sonic excellence, strumming his way through a collection of rock, prog, ambient (his minimalist Peppermoth release 'Now you hear me' still echoing and informing) and folk song styles with a crack band of collaborators including drummer Morgan Doctor, double bassist Jeff Bird, guitarist Kevin Breit, additional drums from Adam Bowman (an eccodek compatriot) and a taste of global from Indian classical singer Onkar Singh. Forest For The Trees, the album's first video is a natural, accessible choice for first single but there many twists and turns through the 13 song collection that warrant repeated spins. And, the signatures of his sound design background are wonderfully inescapable, despite Bardo's leanings as a songwriter's album, as he deftly and defiantly adds big splashes of fat, analog synths with Floydian abandon throughout.