I consider myself very lucky—my first album review was of an album I genuinely enjoyed.
The Belle Game (Adam Nanji, Katrina Jones, Andrea Lo, Alex Andrew and Rob Chursinoff) will be releasing their album “Ritual, Tradition, Habit” on October 9th—twelve tracks of what I would describe as “naturalistic” songs.
Basically, I would listen to this album while sitting in my living room, maybe reading a book and relaxing, and suddenly I’d feel like I need to start to be active. Maybe I will finally clean my room, or start a new project on the living room table (much to my house mates’ dismay). ”Ritual, Tradition, and Habit” is the kind of album that can take a lazy rainy (or you know, snowy) afternoon and turn it into a productive and enjoyable evening at home.
The songs also have an “old” aspect to them—they sound antique, traditional. Which is quite likely the intention, as the name of the album suggest. There is a nice combination of instruments, mostly piano and guitar, but also trumpets, drums and some electronic sounds as well—the album appears to combine traditional forms of music with electronic sounds. Nevertheless, the combination seems to remain in a short range of variation that works well together—that is, it is not too ancient nor too modern.
Some songs also seem to have a Japanese style especially the beginning of “Blame Fiction” and parts of “Keep Me Up All Night,” though I don’t know how to justify that claim by other than showing you a video of a traditional Japanese song and let you compare it to the style of the album (but keep in mind I am no expert in Japanese music). The Belle Game sound is not as mellow or relaxing as in the Japanese video, but it seems to have a similar notion surrounding nature. For some reason I keep imagining trees all around me with leaves of different colours being carried by the wind. Although I may be indulging somewhat in my own overactive imagination, it can’t be denied that nature is very present in this album. Just the name of some of the songs should make that clear: “Salt + Water” “River” “Wasted Light” “Bruises to Ash”…
And although I liked the majority of this album, I still found a few things that didn’t click. The three songs “Ritual,” “Tradition,” and “Habit” are quite short and seem to be displaced; lacking a discernible ending. In a way, it is sometimes refreshing for a song to end prematurely or abruptly, but in this case I was left with a weird feeling of openness, a lack of closure, and desire for resolve. It pushes me to listen to it again just to be able to appreciate the song better.
Also, I found most of the lyrics difficult to understand at first; the voice of the lead singer Andrea Lo seems to have an echo in every song and it is quite feminine and with a high pitch. Nevertheless, it almost sounds like a goddess or high priest singing in a temple; very powerful. In fact, what seems to bring the most rhythm and style into the songs is the voice of Andrea Lo–her voice completely dominates each song despite her “eco-effect”.
It may have been that I am no longer used to listening to a full album, one song after another, since probably 1999 (thank you MP3s), and as such I found the style to be tiring after a few songs. I found each track to be good in their own way, and they are different enough to have their own identity (“Wait Up For You” and “Wasted Light” made me want to go for a walk and enjoy the sunset as if nothing was wrong with the world, and I felt suddenly motivated to do anything and everything—invited to move, to act. While, on the other hand, “River” made me picture myself sitting static in a moving bus where everything is black and white, while a thousand leafs of every colour I could possibly imagine fell from the trees outside, like it was OK to let life pass you by).
3. Wait Up For You
4. In Secrets
5. Wasted Light
7. Bruises to Ash
8. Blame Fiction
9. Salt + Water
10. Keeps Me Up at Night
11. Little Wars (Causing Your Trouble)
The album will be available on October 9, 2012 via Vancouver’s Boompa Records.
For more information on the band visit http://www.thebellegame.com/
–Ana M. Osorio