Monoplay Records (label)
16 April 2021 (released)
10 May 2021
The triumphant sound of massive line arrays pumping glory into a concrete coliseum. The hoards fist-pumping and singing in unison. The spectacle of the arena rock show. Do you remember what it's like to set foot in an arena? It seems like so long ago that we were lining up for flat tap beer and cramming into cramped rows of seats to witness a group of travelling misfits worship at the altar of rock. Even before the pandemic, the arena rock band has been on the decline. Choreographed dances and mumble-mouthed rappers over larger-than-life rock titans. Some out there still get their kicks from good old rock n roll, still crave the adrenaline surge that can only be brought out by a thundering rhythm section, wailing guitars and a vocalist screaming at the gods.
Barista, the moniker of Turkish artist Bahadır Han Eryılmaz, is a project that brings in influence from prog rock, psychedelia, and Turkish folk but the main driving ethos to their latest record Open Sesame Vol 1: Her Dress is big bold classic arena rock. Those soaring sounds that were spearheaded by bands like Journey, Toto, and Supertramp. In fact, Eryılmaz gathered together a cast of musicians that have their bona fides steeped in arena rock tradition including Supertramp member Jesse Siebenberg as well as Brian Duffy (Guns' Roses, Velvet Revolver), Sara Azriel, (Pink Martini), Lydia Salnikova (Kenny Rogers, BO), and Simon Phillips. This record is the first of a planned series of five volumes, each representing different sides of Eryılmaz eclectic production personality.
The opener 'Circular Lives' comes out kicking with a little American open road twang like a Bon Jovi motorcycle ode. The vocals of Brian Duffy are part hearty, part raspy in the sweet spot to get those gears grinding. In a very on the nose allusion to forebears Journey, he belts out “he took the midnight train going anywhere” over the big guitar chorus. Siebenberg plays to the rafters with his '80s hair metal solo. A dramatic drum build takes us to the wide-open climax. A clinic in power rock.
The title track “Her Dress” settles in but keeps the big vocals and drums from the opener. 'Disco Sun' switches lanes for a minor key '70s dance-off. 'In a Dream' finds its footing with the muted Fender chugs and raspy reminiscing that made Bryan Adams a superstar. 'Watching the End Begin, Part 1 (Coffee Song)' is the group at its groovy heaviest. Lockstep guitar-bass-drums lay down a weighty bluesy funk while Duffy belts out the sarcastic scorned lyrics. The album's clear powerhouse standout.
The final two tracks give up the vocals to female singers. The penultimate 'Walk in My Shoes' features Lydia Salnikova soulfully singing over a sauntering piano and slide guitar-led look at disconnection. The shifting guitar work does much to evoke David Gilmour. 'Be Mine' picks the pace back up to close things out. Sara Azriel takes it home with a straightforward confessional.
Open Sesame Vol 1:Her Dress is an expertly played ode to the era of big rock. Eryılmaz ties it all together, utilizing these varied talents to carry out his vision of the ideal rock record. Turn it up, spill a little lager on your shirt, and pretend you're back in the arena with 20,000 of your closest friends.