Editor’s Disclosure: Executive Editor of ArtsATL, Laura Relyea, serves as a volunteer event curator and coordinator for Deer Bear Wolf’s reading series, Transgression.
A perfect start to a placid, gray winter’s morning, Book of Colors’ eponymous album begins by transcending the listener to a pleasant, Eastern place. The opening is the herald of a well-arranged album rife with interesting tones, rhythms and instrumentation. The half-step trills and solo female voice gives the listener a feeling of something foreign, something tender and something unique. André Paraguassu’s voice is the glue to the piece, and one soon finds out, to the album as a whole.
“Silence Is Better” brings the listener down to earth with familiar chordal movement and instrumentation. The steel guitar adds a new layer of depth to the already large cast of instruments. Paraguassu reveals that his whiskey-toned, raw voice has another shelf, a little higher up, that he accesses quite masterfully in this second piece of the album.
The third track starts with a wandering vocal section that dissipates into an appropriate major seven section, aptly met by the lyrics “Walking through a dream, notice as the fog drifts away.” Fitting imagery for yet another ethereal piece. Appropriate changes of the key in the chorus gives a feeling of lifting from the dream of the verses. If one listens closely, they might hear what sounds like a bassoon or bass clarinet noodling around in your right ear, adding a sense of detail and texture.
“Oh Your Backwards Smile” is brought forth by a rich vocal section that once again falls off into a more subtly arranged standard arrangement. The band is capable of playing many different moods and implement the Beatles method of an unrelated, eccentric bridge section. But oh, it is just a backward smile after all.
The midpoint of the album is expectedly another tale of dreams. Brought forth in the mix is a skillfully performed piano, reinforced by the solid rhythm section and guitars. A chilling moment announces the vocals when the steel guitar slides into its chord in a very “Breathe (In the Air)” way — tell me you didn’t think of that, George Kotler-Wallace.
Throughout the album, Paraguassu’s lyrics hypnotically weave metaphors, describing the dreamlike trance he feels in the presence of the album’s muse.
“Lucid Dreams” ends without resolve and thrusts the listener into a woodwind, flute combo. This piece is a great example of how Book of Colors takes their time developing a song — this preamble being a minute in length. Paraguassu’s version of dreams are certainly pleasant and perhaps too lucid, but he proclaims nonetheless about the sixth track, “I know it’s slow.”
“Lo and Behold” is yet another entrancing cavalcade of shifting chords and rich instrumentation. This is the kind of song that frustrates kids trying to learn guitar more than any other. Once you feel that you are jiving with the groove and progression, the chords change again and again. However, if you are not trying to sit down and learn this whole album, then the presence of minor fourths, flat thirds, major seconds and the like should only enhance your enjoyment of this delicate piece of music. This song introduces a more complex version of Paraguassu’s metaphor, but esoterically, leaving the listener to his own interpretation.
One of the strengths of this album is the regular presence of solid acoustic guitar, bass, drums, violin and electric guitar. However, what is compoundingly impressive is the amount of auxiliary instrumentation featured: vibraphone, clarinet, steel guitar, piano and many other more subtle instruments that add texture. On “Easily Together,” a quaint and pure flute appears in a lead role. Just another example of the broad network of players from which Book of Colors draws. Additionally, the styles the band is capable of drawing from including folk, jazz, samba, blues, country and rock, prevent the listener from becoming disenchanted with a repetitive style.
The final track, “Hologram of Thought,” conveys the sense that something very hard fought is coming to an end. It is sentimental in tone and broad in scope. Paraguassu’s metaphor does not relent through the end, and perhaps his most poignant comparison is its last, “…but the hologram of thought [is] around you.”
The biggest question looming over the album is how the band will manage to perform it live. The different levels of instrumentation, texture, dynamics, harmony and sheer number of players required leaves the band with challenging shoes to fill, but if they are able to fill them then they will indubitably fascinate their audience with a beautiful and impressive performance.
Book Of Colors self-titled album was released by Deer Bear Wolf on February 5, 2016.
See them perform:
Saturday, February 27, 2016, 7 p.m.
at Terminal West with Little Tybee and Hello Ocho