Philadelphia’s Busses prep Feb 17 release of “Wizard of the Eye!”

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Sunday, January 11, 2015

Philly rock band Busses will release their new album Wizard of the Eye on February 17th. It has been quite a few years since the last time I spent a good deal of time listening to Busses, but their 2010 self-titled album left a strong impression on me and I’m glad to see they’re still around. The title track of the album is available to stream below, and it finds the band exploring slower melodies that expand to create a thicker, entrancing atmosphere. It’s somewhere between sprawling psych rock and indie rock, and based on this first single it’s safe to say Busses has me hooked all over again.

Direction. Motion. Progress. These words aren’t typically used to describe a rock band, but it’s the best way to break down Wizard of the Eye, the new album from Busses. The Philadelphia trio’s latest expands on the genre-slashing ambitions of its debut, charting new destinations on the post- rock spectrum. Dave Brett, Jason Bachman and Nick Apice continue to hone their collective gift for writing complex yet concise arrangements. Paint-pealing guitars and cavernous drums remain trademarks, but a heightened attention to dynamics defines these songs, and a reflective haze softens the edges.

It’s tempting to say Busses is experimenting with different textures, but the 10 tracks on Wizard of the Eye don’t sound like experiments. Decisive shifts in mood provide a kaleidoscopic backdrop for harmonies that are rich and layered. Even the most fragmented compositions feel meticulously plotted and carefully arranged, yet never overlabored. Nautical themes are folded into a jagged frame on “Bubbles,” which opens with restless bass-driven post-punk streaked with ear-splitting howls before simmering into gentle chords spread over a soothing rustle. “Rain” and “Big Surprise” are underpinned by lush horns that thicken and elevate the melodies, broadening the group’s tonal palette.

At the helm is singer-guitarist Brett, whose elastic voice reflects the band’s range. On the drifting, weightless reverie “Overload,” he works in a delicate, tentative whisper, a giant leap from the ecstatic release he delivers on the powerful title track. Thick and intricate countermelody comes from bassist and keyboardist Bachman, who locks in effortlessly with Apice’s polyrhythmic drumming, rooted in an unwavering pulse that also breathes organically. Busses wring multi-faceted ideas from a few key components, but ultimately this is music to get lost in. Brett sums it up best on the terrestrial drone of “Radio”: “These are the words, and here are the chords/This is how it goes.”

-Areif Sless-Kitain

Artist – Busses
Album – Wizard of the Eye
Release Date – February 17, 2015
Label – S/R

01. The Fundamental Order of the Universe
02. Wizard of the Eye
03. Liar
04. Bubbles
05. Overlaod
06. Rain
07. Radio
08. Big Surprise
09. Predawn
10. Sunrise

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