Most contemporary musical artists will do anything to chase – and then maintain – relevance. In an industry of declining record sales and infinite musical choices a click away, artists are prone to hawk their commercialized products and brand incessantly. The fear of overexposure has been replaced by the fear of being lost in the crowd entirely, and artists have reacted by shoving themselves in their audience’s face to the point of exasperation and passivity. Influenced by sounds from R&B and indie, to psychedelic rock, it’s safe to say that Bone Nest – an artist and producer from San Francisco, California – is not like most acts today. Far from the spotlight, and locked into creating in the studio, his self-titled release is both a promise and an affirmation of his talents.
Right from the opening track, “Tube Amp”, Bone Nest sends an immediate message that the album to follow was made on his own terms, and he is not beholden artistically to anything other than his own vision. The compositions on the first part of the album are largely dreamy, downtempo arrangements, frequently consisting of little more than Bone Nest’s voice and varied keyboards with sparse guitar lines and percussion. This sparsity is at first disarming, as it often seems upon first glance that these tracks could be casual home demos rather than professionally-inclined recordings.
Yet upon repeat listens, you grasp that the power of this minimalism reveals the underlying beauty in the songwriting. Bone Nest’s voice, as quaint and versatile as it is, often takes center stage, and his lyrics cut through the echoing and feedback with breathtaking emotional precision.
The record puts forth the framework of chilled out R&B crooning, falsetto here and there, amidst an experimental backdrop augmented by the electronic genre. Moving ahead the arrangements slice through groovier, funkier and utterly unique tunes.
These songs will move your feet and your soul, and make you think – and parts are absolutely gorgeous. The electro-chill-ambient-R&B-rock combination of musical genres is a pastiche that is rich and satisfying, and vocally compelling.
The songs and the production, when you listen to the entire thing all the way through, may make you feel like you just had a few puffs off a bong packed with high quality medicinal… even though you haven’t. With a diverse array of singing styles, lyrics, sounds, effects and transitions, this album keeps itself fresh and engaging throughout its entirety.
Bone Nest himself, who remains elusive and consistent at the center of it all, has the ability to funnel just about any style of music into his creations. On a pure ear candy level, there are no songs here that will lodge themselves in the listener’s consciousness by the second listen.
These songs require multiple plays as they unfold, expand and diffuse themselves through your brain. In particular tracks like “Hollow/Clay”, “worstfear”, “Set Me Free” and “Soul Flex”. The album also displays plenty of experiments that all go over incredibly well especially the weird vocal escapades on “couldlivealife”, “mindofyours” and “PrettyDamnCold”, among others.
Many of the tracks will shift from calm to crazy and then back again in a matter of seconds – creating an unsettling, yet satisfying vibe. While this album isn’t necessarily described as an experimental album, it sure has enough experimental elements to qualify.
Surprisingly, despite how incredibly experimental and diverse it is, the recording is also an incredibly easy listen in places. Bone Nest pushes the envelope on many tracks, moving between playful, quirky, soulful, funky, detached, indulgent, yet always refined compositions that are sure to keep you listening all night.
I think most mainstream fans may not be ready for this album just yet, but its true creative achievements will become more evident to them in the future. Bone Nest proves himself to be an innovative pioneer who evolves the science of music in the most ingenious ways rendering classifications and labels meaningless.