I’m reviewing five songs written and performed by David Biel, also known as Bielworks. The opening songs are Smooth Move and Smooth Move II. Those are followed by Perkolator, Manifesto Testo and Transitions. I toss in my insight on influences that show up. Obviously my perceptions of musical influences or factors don’t necessarily coincide with David’s reality. However the range is equally broad in his dimension or my illusions.
I’ll share some my personal images that emerged as I explored these tunes. One memory goes back to 1965-66. A more recent one is from the early ’80s. Two or three more link to scenes or characters from my list of prefered films.
Smooth Move:What I initially notice are forceful touches from ‘Billy Jean’ by Michael Jackson. Beyond that are traces of Jean Luc Ponty, Spyro Gyra, and even a hint of Hip Hop.
This song transports me to Golden Gate Park where I’m playing Frisbee. The proficient use of the vibraphone stands out. The sub beat is terrific. The song swirls out from the center, so it’s appealing - subtle. The transitions are involving and unobtrusive. Wow.
Part II is almost a continuation but not quite. It has an interior twist. And it moves all over the color spectrum. I visualize energy unfolding and shifting - it’s quite unpredictable. I like the tie in to the closing measure from Part 1. There’s a classy interplay of synchronistic and asynchronistic elements including rounded zig zags. In other words the personality of the composition is intertwined, considering how incongruous it is. The segues are amazing! It’s definitely brain food.
Perkolator sends out vibes of Marvin Gaye and George Gershwin. (I told you there’s a broad range of influences; whether from my speculations or David’s real musical heroes.) I picture the tiny balls dancing around in the machine for the daily lotto drawing on Channel 9. I have indoor and outdoor memories associated with Perkolator. Outside: I’m doing somersaults or going tobogganing. I’m walking to school in the a.m. with my friends Linda and Craig. It’s crispy cold so we’re striding.
My indoor daydream is that I’m on a wide, brand new polished wood dance floor in a nightclub. There’s a gorgeous bar on one side – it’s an ideal set up. I dance in all sorts of ways and all sorts of styles without ever looking geeky or as if I lost the rhythm. Who wants to help me find this place so David can play there in real life?
The texture of this composition evolves from adept use of “fuzz” and the horn section is marvelous. The tempo borders on frenetic but never quite succumbs, whereas the vocal echo is almost imperceptible. It’s an intriguing addition. The beat is along the lines of a code someone who always taps on your back door in the same fashion. The tune is humorous and just a tad sneaky.
In Manifesto Testo I perceive bits and pieces of songs that appear on the Windham Hill label. So that’d be Jim Brickman or George Winston, for example. I also find a glimmer of Keith Jarrett. Keith is a genius at the piano and most assuredly not in the Windham Hill group!
Manifesto Testo is sentimental. It sounds like it’s dedicated to a specific moment or a person who David treasures … it invokes a couple stopping to hug during a moonlit walk. And the woman resembles Julia Robert’s persona in the movie Step Mom.
There are numerous adjustments in the tempo, I counted three. There are probably more. Once again David rules the keyboard and is open to improvisation. I’m not sure if he improvised in this recording or if the improv is insinuated. His dexterity is fully evident, though!
Bette Midler in the film That Old Feeling comes to mind when I listen to Manifesto Testo. The role does her justice and vice versa. The tune has a sly quality almost like a lullaby. I describe it as quiet, graceful and romantic. Not to mention that it succeeds in being mystical yet endearing.
Transitions: Lyrically this is a tune Harry Connick Jr. would include in his repertoire. He’d have to write the words for it first, though. It’d lend itself well to his voice. The structure of Transitions translates for me to being a guest at a wedding in the late Spring. The cake is the most exquisite combination of flavors in existence – a layer each of lemon and raspberry filling with light yellow cake in between.
Of the five songs, this one has the most steadfast beat. The saxophone’s presence is energetic and leisurely, especially in contrast to Perkolator. The layering is agile, the theme expands out and circles back. The cutoff ending brings us in to present time.
The single word description for Transitions is tribal. The tension is exacting. Other fitting words are stunning and progressive. I love its’ kinship to stream-of-consciousness thought.
Treat your ears and your soul to this marvelous stuff. The pertinent links are:
HeatherJune Toser 9.17.10