Bryan Deister – Spines Of The Heart

Bryan Deister - Spines Of The Heart

Bryan Deister – Spines Of The Heart

Experimental electronica and avant-rock purveyor Bryan Deister does it all on his 23-track, 2-disc opus Spines Of The Heart – from the music, lyrics, and vocals to the recording, mixing, and album artwork. The only outside assistance came from Bernie Grundman who mastered the platter. Spines Of The Heart made its debut in late December 2015 as a digital release and it will also be delivered in physical form at a later date.

Deister is a student at the renowned Berklee College of Music and has studied classical, jazz, blues, and modern music, learning piano at an early age and later tuning in and turning on to Radiohead; particularly Thom Yorke’s vocal delivery. Writing compelling music is first and foremost in Deister’s mind, but not far behind is his piano playing and grasp of a variety of other instruments.

Spines Of The Heart is atmospheric from the start with “All That I Have” enveloping the listener in a slowly unfurling ambience of unease. A repetitive cycle of lightly dropped electronic notes leaven the mood slightly, but a menacing undercurrent of distorted growling, sharply winding keyboard lines, and Deister’s hushed and anxious vocal delivery keep the feeling unsteady. Deister draws out his vocals, softly intoning “All my friends are gone…” and by the end of the song, that “…memories…are all that I have.”

The bleak, but gently delivered sentiments and stark instrumentation of the first track continue into the next number, “Responding Well”. Warm, Björk-like pattering percussion reverberates over Deister’s slowly pronounced vocals as he sings and wordlessly sighs in a downcast tone. The sonics, and Deister, open up toward the end of the song with a stronger beat emerging and Deister exclaiming with malaise, his voice processed and layered to add to the angst.

A subdued, shuffling beat treads through “In Her Eyes” as Deister sings in a quieter register against his own humming intonations. Barely-there keyboards follow Deister’s voice as he murmurs “I can see you in her eyes.” Starry, reverberating notes float by on “Have You” as a steady drum pace marches along and Deister achingly projects his vocals to the sky. The fluid, dreamy keyboards deepen and expand with his emotive tone, while the continuous drum beat keeps Deister’s pensive searching grounded.

True to its name, “Breaking Dawn” rises slowly with just Deister’s voice, light keyboards, and a spare beat at the start as he wistfully hopes “Maybe there’s a brighter dawn for me.” The keyboard notes and a quicker drum beat suddenly materialize as Deister pines choir boy-style, twining his two vocal lines to heavenly effect. A highlight of the album, “Into The Sky”, recalls the best of Radiohead with its rapid, rhythmic percussion, reflective piano notes, and gorgeously falling star, tiered vocals from Deister as he angelically sighs about “…living in a dream”.

“Today” begins with unobtrusive piano, a ticking beat, and airy, elongated vocals from Deister before rising organ lines lead into a rock noir and classical passage. Deister keeps pushing and extending his crestfallen vocals like Thom Yorke while the symphonic backdrop swells around him. In similar style, “What You Want” commences slowly with ponderous keyboard lines and Deister’s mellifluous and malleable vocals. In a Jeff Buckleyesque bravura performance, Deister gracefully and vividly bends, reaches, and emotes with dramatic flair, declaring to “Stand up and take it,” and face adversity head-on.

A searching piano refrain, clacking and shaken percussion, rhythmic hand drums, and eerily suspended keyboards take shape on “Always Further”. Deister pushes his keening vocals to the edge at times on this haunting track, segueing from a velvety tone to a sharper cry, weeping over a word that sounds like “gone”. Deister uses his voice like another instrument in the mix, making it difficult to clearly hear the lyrics he’s singing. This is beneficial to the overall mood of the songs, but can be detrimental for understanding what he’s singing about.

Simmering keyboard shimmers and contemplative notes keep a measured tempo on “Nothing More”. Deister stretches his vocals on the verses, singing about “…the dreams I have of you / in my mind…”. He flies to the stratosphere with pained sweetness during a prolonged vocal passage, his restless feelings resonating with poignancy as he caps the song off with the admission that “There is nothing more beautiful.” Heart-aching beauty, brooding distress, and introspective questioning all run deeply throughout Deister’s ambitious, alluring, and accomplished album.

Stream the album in full:

Official Site