Barishi – ‘Blood From The Lion’s Mouth’ (Album Premiere)
Barishi walk a thin line. It doesn't take long to realize that the four members of the band are all accomplished and technically gifted musicians, which is as much of a gift as it is a curse. If you get enough good musicians into a room with each other, it is almost inevitable that they are going to start challenging each other and pushing the music into more outlandish and shredy territory. This is fine in small doses, but musicianship as an end unto itself typically has a short shelf life once the high wears off. The reverse impulse is almost as bad. Few things are worse than high caliber musicians doing an exaggeration of "tasteful" playing in an effort to stave off their instinct to let the chops fly free.
Luckily, Barishi do neither on Blood From The Lion's Mouth. The album is filled with small moments of exploratory joy, where you can feel each idea building naturally from the one preceding it. The band never sound like they are losing the plot, but they also don't sound self-conscious when simplifying their playing either. Again, it's a thin line, but Barishi walk that line with a real strut in their step. Not only can you stream the album below , you can also read the band's take on each song, as well as the story behind the album's recording process and creation.
We started writing this album in the spring of 2015. I think it was a collective goal to cut away as much musical fluff as possible and try to grow as songwriters and players. The way we went about writing songs changed. We became increasingly self-critical and consistently re-wrote parts or re-arranged the song form. I think the alteration of the creative process yielded a final result that was much more in tune with our artistic vision than previous recordings.
In terms of production we wanted to try a more organic approach than we had done in the past. Brian Westbrook (producer) decided that it would be pertinent to rent a large wooden room in Brattleboro, Vermont and record the drums without triggers or samples in an attempt to get a big natural sound. I think the final result was worth carrying truck loads of equipment up the three flights of stairs and wearing the odor of Brian’s cat urine-soaked sound baffles for the following days. The guitars and bass were recorded with real amps in a similar environment as we were trying to replicate our live sound (for better or worse.) Brian really went above and beyond in the production of this record. It seemed like he always had an idea as how to improve a section or make something sound bigger. The combination of his spunky wizardry and Nick Dragoni’s mastering prowess is aces in our opinion.
Grave of the Creator
As I recall, the skeleton of this song was hashed out in a hundred year old cabin in the wilds of Maine. We took the riffs and churned out the instrumental portion in one of our practices. I think Sascha (our singer) was off in California or something when we came up with that one. I remember upon his return, he locked himself away in a shag- carpeted nook in my pad and scribbled in his notebook as he watched a documentary on Voodoo. I’m fairly sure the lyrics in this song have something to do with it, but who knows? The tundra of Sascha’s thought process is best left unmolested.
Blood from the Lion’s Mouth
This tune went through a bunch of different incarnations. I remember when writing it we really struggled with the rhythmic feel as the washy riffs don’t really indicate anything that precise. Dylan eventually hit the nail on the head doing a Bonham-esque thing in the beginning. After we had that first chunk down the rest fell into place fairly quickly.
The Great Ennead
"The Great Ennead" was tons of fun to write. We had a bunch of disjointed riffs floating around that we dug a lot and were determined to cram into a song. We had pretty much everything together but felt like there was something missing. Graham had been listening to a bunch of Shakti and wanted to do a poor man’s John Mclaughlin thing, so he and Dylan added in those unison lines in the middle section. I think in the end it gave the tune a bit of zest.
Death Moves in Silence
My personal favorite on this record, reason being; when we first started getting this tune together it seemed like it was really going to grind things to a halt. All the little rhythmic things going on don’t necessarily sound that hard but make it really easy for the song to be sloppy. We went in to the studio with it sounding like a real shit sandwich but somehow, magically it came together better than we ever hoped for. Graham double tracked the rhythm on his telecaster and then overdubbed that same part with a double tracked acoustic and double tracked electric 12-string. The later two sit fairly low in the mix but bubble up once in a while to kind of a cool effect.
Master Crossroads, Baron Cemetery
"Master Crossroads, Baron Cemetery" was written, mostly, in Dylan's grandmotherly home in Jamaica, VT. If I recall correctly this one came together quite easily. After it was recorded we came to the conclusion that the ending felt a bit hollow and uninteresting. At that point Graham was able to whip up the melody that floats nicely atop the chord changes in the end. The lyrics were scratched out by an uncharacteristically studious Sascha, who feverishly poured over websites about voodoo and cryptozoology.
Bonesetter was a song greatly helped by the process of constantly recording and listening back to what we had just played. We really wanted this song to wax and wane dynamically, and I think/hope we have achieved that. The title is a reference to the band name 'Barishi' which is a Mongolian Shaman who specializes in setting broken bones.
"The Deep" was definitely one of the two hardest songs for us to write. Many long hours (days? weeks?) were spent writing, recording, listening, deleting, and repeating that process until we were satisfied with the end result. It has become one of our absolute favorite songs to play live. Sascha was smoking a lot of weed and watching the Neil DeGrasse Tyson narrated 'Cosmos' series constantly at this point, so I think the lyrics have something to do with space and the chaos of the Multi-verse theory.
The Spectral Order
"The Spectral Order" underwent many significant changes during the writing process. Multiple sections were removed and added, numerous tempos were experimented with. Once everything had fallen into place, we had a little trouble deciding where in the track list this one should go, but finally agreed it would be a fun ender. The lyrics are kind of about a pilgrimage of twelve sages, checking out sweet geographic features of note on their wizard trip up the ol’ mountain.