Review Summary: Byla is a great album to just turn on and relax to, but, as is a trend of minimalist albums, can become tedious if you're not in the right mood or mindset.
I discovered this project when I was on MySpace looking at Dysrhythmia’s top friends. I first looked at the band members section. Colin Marston, the beast on Warr guitar, and Kevin Hufnagel, the Dysrhythmia shredder? Oh man, time for some more ear-splitting, fast-paced, insanely complex metal. So, what do you get when you take the man behind the insanity of Infidel?/Castro! and Behold… The Arctopus and add it with the technical guitarist of Dysrhythmia? Well, you get about fifty minutes of a fuzzy walls of sound, entrancing shimmers, and trippy wavelengths.
The sound of Byla
is quite shocking when you look at the history of its creators. Contrary to the previous sounds the musicians created with other bands, the music is very minimalist. For example, “The Last To Leave,” the album’s closer, is over ten minutes of a simple guitar line with a shimmering lead over it.
When I first started the album with the song “Sent,” I wasn’t very surprised by the sound. I just thought to myself, “Oh, this is just a segue to the next track.” Wrong. The two minute duration is a previously mentioned shimmering sound, almost like chimes. This is a good introduction for the rest of the album: Long, drawn out effects that repeat until you lose track of time.
One intriguing fact about the work on this album is that nearly all of the sounds produced come from guitar. Even the remotely disturbing second track, “Displacement,” is redeeming for guitar geeks. The track consists of just what sounds like a really out of tune Asian instrument, or someone simply strumming the strings on the headstock of guitar. A big highlight in the album, however, is the acoustic guitar work in “Closer To The Center,” my personal favorite, and “Morning Looming.”
What made me download the rest of this album after the tracks I got on MySpace was the calming feel I got when listening to “Closer To The Center.” This, as other songs such as “The Last To Leave,” have the power to completely hypnotize you. In the latter of the two, you begin to lose focus on everything, and you don’t even realize when the chords on the guitar change. Also, the imagery that this album conveys to the listener is often indescribable. “Lake Opulia” gives me the feeling that I’m in a giant crystal-filled cave next to an underground river.
This album does have its fair share of weaknesses, one key flaw being the fact that it doesn’t flow as an entire album. The changes between tracks are sometimes smooth, but more often are quite jarring and kill the effect of the album. Take for example the transition from “Sent” to “Displacement.” “Sent” relaxes you and sounds as if it is building up to some sort of climax, but then you’re hit with “Displacement," which delivers like nails on a chalkboard when following the first track.
Another weakness is the lack of change. Yes, I know this album is very minimalist, and it is quite good in some instances, but when you’re not sleeping or studying or any other mindless task when you’re trying to listen to this, it can sometimes wind up being awfully boring. Even when there are changes, they are incredibly subtle and are easy to miss if you aren’t concentrating on the music, like the addition of bass in the two-chord riff in “Closer To The Center,” or the light, watery lead at the end of “Open Door.”
All in all, this album makes for a good buy for if you want self-hypnosis or music for sleep. However, you can get the full effect of the album by simply downloading the free tracks on their website and putting it on repeat.
Great for sleep
Interesting guitar usage
Way too long, should’ve been released with maybe 3 or 4 choice cuts as an EP.
No track really stands on its own, but the album doesn't flow too well either.
"Closer To The Center", "Lake Opulia", "Morning Looming", "The Last To Leave"