Power. Mystique. Horrible artwork. These are a few of the things that surround Bobby’s Bobby, a journey through time and space which features vocals from Mountain Man’s Molly Sarle. Featuring tracks that pleasantly drone and spin yarns of mystic truths and spark truly transcendental moments for the listener, this collection comes close to unleashing a gentle fury among listeners, inspiring wholesale conversations, trips into the country, commune joining, the whole vegan menu. At least that’s the design.
In truth, Bobby isn’t the only outfit walking this terrain, creating a kind of mystique around itself and marrying elements of the Books, Björk and the polyrhythmic hand drumming of Yoruba. OK, maybe in this last, Bobby is truly alone but then again, how many of us have heard enough hand drumming from Yoruba to know when it presents itself in music made by kids who have probably recently graduated from small, private liberal arts colleges in New England?
What you’ve got to know, of course, is whether this record is gonna go your way. And, in truth, it might. It comes close. The droning, the bleeping, the blopping. A musical atmosphere that’s thicker than a Brahmin accent, and nods to Kate Bush, Björk (did we mention this already?) and others all make for an interesting stew that is highly impressive upon first listen, then less so as the novelty, such as it is, of the whole thing begins to wear ever-so-slightly thin. The pleasant minimalism of album opener “We Saw” and its funky (for lack of another almost entirely inappropriate term) and Asian-influenced follow-up “Sore Spores” plus the meditative “Tomb Bloom” add up to a strong beginning. Problem is, one can only endure four or five five-minute-plus tracks that cover the same meditative feelings before feeling the need for what David Lee Roth would call something a little more rockin’.
The absolute nadir of the album comes via “Ginger (Water Birth)”, a track that, despite some inherent beauty goes less than nowhere and excites about as much as a radish burp. The group recovers from there via “Shimmychick” and the beautifully executed “Dustbeam” (more Asian influences here, incorporated to stunning results), but at an hour in length, this album is at least 20 minutes too long. After a time the compare/constrast/build-and-let-down/ying-yang/push-pull/Jagger/Richards/vegan/omnivore of the whole thing begins to grate rather than soothe. I assume that some of this might go easier if one is incorporating this collection into mediation practices, but as general listening, it’s all a bit much.
So, the bottom line is that these here folkers would be wise to unleash something a little more concise and a little less diffuse in the future, something that finds strengths in its compositions rather than in the vibe. Vibe, after all, is nice, but the back roads of popular music are littered with carcasses and empty dime bags of bands that attempted to live solely on vibe. Let’s hope that Bobby isn’t one of those bands, and that this often-promising collection is merely the sound of a band finding its compositional feet, its identity, itself, and that next time we get more songs.