Friday, August 8, 2008

Broken Iris – The Eyes of Tomorrow

This disc has a unique history in Ripple lore. Initially, The Eyes of Tomorrow spent a good eight to eleven cycles in Racer’s CD player, and then made its way down to me where it spent another eight to eleven cycles toiling in my player. I can’t recall any album up to this that has bounced back and forth so much before we could begin tippity tapping our thoughts across the LED screens of our respective computers. But, here it is. The Eyes of Tomorrow, the debut album from California's Broken Iris, is a stellar and addictive listen that blends emotionally charged hard edged rock with infectious melodies and ambient soundscapes.

The album is based on a story that was penned by a former guitarist (Tony Verdi) for the band, and incorporates some serious dark tones to convey the message of the ups and downs of love. Anyone who has ever gone through love knows the sensations of confusion, excitement, frustration, and bliss, and Broken Iris perfectly capture those emotions. The lyrics walk hand in trembling hand with the emotionally sprawling musical passages. Listen to the emotions packed into the vocal performance by Adam Roth towards the end of the title track. His voice cracks at just right moments, to the point that I’m buying what he’s selling. I’m convinced that he’s not just singing the words, but feeling the pain. I just had a shiver. Great stuff!

“Unfolding Time” soars with another beautiful vocal performance. The orchestrated string arrangements add moving textures over the standard acoustic rock foundation. Emotionally uplifting and inspiring, the tune eventually fades to the majestic “Beautiful Girl.” This tune reminds me of A Perfect Circle in the vocal approach, but these vocals feel so much more vulnerable and fragile, almost as if Adam is going to break down at any moment. The layered vocal tracks add an element that, in my mind, symbolizes the multiple voices that we hear when we’re searching for the words and too many thoughts race through the mind to be coherently expressed. You know that confusion of wanting to say all of the right words, and all at the same time. Manic, desperate words blurted out to keep one’s love from walking away. Brilliant!

When I first saw the track, “The Ripple,” I immediately thought, ‘How nice. These guys don’t even know us and they’re writing songs about us.’ Once I sat back and listened to the tune, I found that it really has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with the magnitude of life. I didn’t really think it had anything to do with The Ripple Effect. I just thought it would be a humorous slant. No one’s laughing? Okay then. This is one of those tunes that I woke up several mornings humming due to its infectious melody. The numerous vocal harmonies kick off the tune and the song continually builds with the addition of the various instruments. By the way, the acoustic guitars on this disc are spot on. Well produced and shimmering, they are the hidden weapon buried in the mix and acts as the foundation so the vocals can have their out-of-the-box approach. Really . . . I was kidding about the whole Ripple thing.

Broken Iris does a good job of mixing the tempos on The Eyes of Tomorrow. Though most of the album is heavily ambient, they break up the potential monotony by mixing in enough rocking elements to keep the head bobbing and toes tapping. It never gets too loud to be abrasive, and the instrumental work shows that these guys have a proficiency that should allow them to grow with their music. Every time this sucker gets spun, something new pops from the mix to tickle my ears. The haunting piano melodies, the acoustic guitar work, the vocal harmonies . . . all of it works together to create a sonic stew to enjoy listen after listen. Has it changed my life? I’m afraid not, but I do believe that future efforts from these cats will. I’m curious where they’re going to take their sound and somewhat excited. The Eyes of Tomorrow is a strong debut and definitely worthy of attention. - Pope JTE

Buy here: The Eyes of Tomorrow

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