Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this edition of Independent Spotlight, we’re going to take a good hard look at Chancius, an indie rocker based out of Brooklyn, New York. The record is a rock-dream pop concept album with a sci-fi twist called ‘Bando.’ Chancius describes the album as an “alternative rock opera about one man’s journey beyond death and the ramifications of blending humanity with technology, all brought to life in sound.” The collection of songs is already receiving significant airplay, charting on a few of those stations as well. Let’s learn a bit about Chancius to give some context to his new music.
‘Bando’ is the second release from Chancius, on which he performs a number of duties alongside several other musicians. I Shit Music described the single for the album, ‘A Piece of You Wherever I Go,’ as the “hidden alt-pop gem of the year.” Positive critical reviews have streamed in past that as well, some of which claim that Bando is a beautiful “experimental quest to the recesses of new wave bliss.” ‘Bando’ certainly has a tall claim to the quality of its music. How do these exceptional reviews hold up, though?
‘Bando’ is eleven tracks long, most of which have longer run times than your typical album. That’s expected with a concept album, however, since these kind of endeavors are best listened to as one coherent piece of art rather than fragmented songs. ‘Hold On’ introduces the album in a remarkably unique way, boasting new wave-esque production that certainly does embody a ‘sci-fi’ sound.
The strengths of ‘Bando’ lie within its exploration of experimental sounds. There isn’t one track on the album that sounds like one of the others and each occupies a radically different sonic soundscape. The title track is one of the best songs in the collection. ‘A Piece of You Wherever I Go’ is also a highlight of the album with its cascading and intriguing synthesizers and droning guitars. ‘Chrysalis’ is another unexpected high point for the album. It’s only a midwa electronic prelude, but it’s compellingly beautiful in its simplicity, especially as it leads into one of the most atmospheric tracks on the album, ‘Time and Space Died Yesterday.’
There is some difficulty for the listener in ‘Bando,’ though, mostly due to the droning nature of the record. I imagine this album would be difficult for a casual music listener to get into. It’s complex and fairly avant garde, perhaps even to the point that it’s difficult to pinpoint specific moments on the record since they all seem to blend together by the end of it. Chancius’ vocal style gets a bit stale after eight or nine tracks, too. (Though most indiscretions are saved by ‘You’re Not One In A Million, You’re One Of A Million - an insanely good track.)
In terms of being a coherent concept record, ‘Bando’ does succeed on its mission. This album is far better consumed as one piece of art rather than fragmented songs shuffled through a playlist. Since some of the best moments on the record the likes of ‘Hologram King’ appear towards the tail end of the album, it makes the experience even more of a treat since it doesn’t fall apart towards the finish like many records do.
There are many famous concept records that embody a specific style of the art ranging from the Beatles to David Bowie to Johnny Cash, etc. ‘Bando’ occupies a place near the Flaming Lips, I’d say, somewhat more distant from concept landmarks like ‘Ziggy Stardust.’ Wit that said, at the end of the day ‘Bando’ is a remarkably, and surprisingly good album. As I mentioned, it does have the tendency to drone into itself as the tracks blend into one another, but that is remedied with a few repeat listens. For audiences seeking a dose of experimental, alternative new-wave-like music, Chancius is right for you. If you’re seeking a more accessible record that doesn’t require much work on part of the audience, take a pass on ‘Bando.’ It’s intelligently designed and expects similar intellect in return. If you can’t offer that, you’re going to drown in it quickly.
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