Break of Reality
Normally in this e-zine we review CDs, but with Break of Reality the term "normal" doesn't apply. Their name posits a different approach, as does their music. For three years a group of classically trained cellists and a drummer would break out of the Eastman School of Music on weekends to play music rooted in heavy metal. Their performances did not go unnoticed. And two years ago when I first heard them at the Spot Coffee café, I came away in awe, thinking of them as a young classical garage band with a lot of raw talent. Three guys and a girl-good kids trying to make something happen. I sent out copies of their first CD to some people who knew more about reviewing music than I do. Coming from a basement studio, they shouldn't have expected much, and not much happened. At their free performances at coffee shops about town, people would show up with computers and microphones to record them live where they exhibited a lot more energy and talent. While the members of the band have been musicians most of their lives, they were just learning recording technique.
Over the past two years the band has evolved from four cellists down to the original three. And the drummer, who was originally kept very restrained in the background, has become an integral creative force. Moreover, they have expanded their repertoire from amplified cellos that rocks to include an acoustic set with the drum kit replaced by a djembe that takes them into the realm of jazz, bordering on world music. Who would have guessed? Their second album is now expanded to include a second CD with an acoustic set.
Graduation is both an end and a beginning for BOR, a beginning that drummer Ivan Trevino has hung out for in Rochester for the past year, having graduated in 2005. It was a wise choice and a necessary one. The band would not have achieved the level of cohesiveness at which they now play, nor would their music have achieved the three dimensionality it has without the temporal cues and dynamic impact Ivan brings to the table. This is not your father's string quartet.
But if your daddy played in a heavy metal bar band back in the '80s as one musician I met at a concert, bring him along. He will not feel alone. Only at a SUNY concert in Geneseo were my wife and I the only Boomers in the audience. And don't be afraid to bring your young ones, either. It was not uncommon for parents to show up with their kids and coloring books. Music without lyrics is a universal language with little need for parental guidance. Perhaps this fact has been instrumental in opening doors for BOR and allowing them to "pay it forward" in workshops they have put on for young musicians at numerous secondary schools and colleges over the past two years. Strong evidence, here, for good kids becoming good adults with values that will not inhibit or cut short the creativity or longevity of the band. Like I said, cohesive.
Tonight's concert at the Spot Coffee was filled with mixed emotions for me. I was unable to secure the video equipment I wanted to videotape them and I worked so late I missed the start of their performance. Life can be like that. In stead, I had my still camera for snapshots and bathed in the music. It was all pretty familiar to me at this point, so it was easy to recognize the polish of their performance. While creativity sometimes arises from chaos or sloppiness, don't expect it from BOR. Their journey has taken them through the Eastman School, and their training and credentials are both classical and impeccable. Patrick Laird is the founder and creative force behind the group. Erin Keesecker can play the most delectable combination of fierce and sweet rock and roll strings you can imagine, and Chris Thibdeau, who is also an orchestra conductor, brings discipline, drive and occasionally pierces his restrained personality with uninhibited spontaneity. Oh, and Ivan, he's the astronomer of the group; the master of the Big Bang on the drum kit, and delicate, yet versatile hand on the djembe.
Although there is one more local concert before they head off to take root in New York City, I was already feeling the impending loss of their presence on the music scene in Rochester. I could feel it, too, in the applause and the standing ovation in the audience, many who have been regular followers. They have come of age here, but they are ready to move on. Their current CD is not a masterpiece of performance or recording quality, but it is a reasonable way to explore their music. From the beginning, I've felt they needed to be recorded live to capture the full force of their music. Until that happens, the very best I can do is urge you to stay tuned to their website and track down a live performance. The journey will be worth the effort and your musical horizon will be enriched. This is a band on the launch pad, and their trajectory may very well be meteoric. Catch them at lift-off as they have a website at www.breakofreality.com.