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Design By Humans
Published On: Fri, Oct 23rd, 2020

Eric Anders/Mark O’Bitz: American Bardo

Eric Anders/Mark O’Bitz
American Bardo
(Baggage Room Records)

Buy it at Amazon!

Northern Californian singer-songwriter Eric Anders, and southern Californian guitarist-composer Mark O’Bitz, offer up their new twelve-song concept album, American Bardo. The songs here were inspired by George Saunders’ Mann-Booker-Prize-winning novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, but one doesn’t need to have read that book to get what Anders and O’Bitz are into on this, their third full-length album collaboration.

“Matterbloomlight (Revisited)” opens with a laidback snare and echo electric, featuring Anders’ haunting vocal. Evoking big open planes in a David Lynchian-like (or is that more a Saunderian?) landscape, O’Bitz’s atmospheric touches help grab us deep to the unfolding of the eleven that follow.

There is a soft, yet strong acoustic push to “My Love,” a song about lovers strained by their years; Anders pained and stretching vocal adding to the pathos perfectly. As things often are the same sounding across this dozen tracks, by the time we get to song number five, “Old Theory of Love,” the stark piano and snare are very welcome on what is, for me, one of my favorites.

“Haunting Abraham” is the first of a sprinkle of single-sounding tunes on American Bardo, with a floaty backline single note, keys, and sing-able chorus. “Life’s Beauty Won,” and “Bardo Cons,” mine this same style, with “Bardo Cons,” driving along with a tight snare to the ballad. They are all wonderfully commercial in the very best sense of that term.

I need to also give notice to what sounds like the perfect use of an EBow on “Judgment Day.” Eric Anders and Mark O’Bitz present a gem-of-a-listen with American Bardo. One can certainly curl up and dive deep into these dozen.

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Eric Anders/Mark O’Bitz: American Bardo