Samsarana, the debut album credited to the name of South Florida-based composer Barry Weinberg, is an early treat of 2018. Samsarana is one of those rare musical efforts that manage to sound like very little else. With derivative acts a dime a dozen on the current music scene, listening to such an album can be an exhilarating experience.
Unabashedly eclectic, Samsarana can be described as a ‘protest album’, and with very good reason. However, it is first and foremost a collection of inspired, thought-provoking compositions performed by a talented musician. When such talent is assembled and put together, the results may often be a tad underwhelming – especially when musicians forget that they are at the service of the music, and not the other way round.
Thankfully, this is not the case with Samsarana. The impressive cohesion between all the instruments involved results in fifteen tracks that display a remarkably original approach, even when external influences can be detected. While listening to the album for the first time, the closest comparison that came into my mind was with the sound encompassing everything from the late ‘70s to the early ‘90s. In contrast with the majority of prog albums released in the past years, Samsarana is based on relatively short compositions — and, indeed, half of the tracks are songs with a more or less ‘conventional’ verse-chorus-verse structure. The album might even be seen as a lesson on how to produce music that does not rely on 30-minute epics or convoluted concept stories in order to be progressive.
A masterful blend of mainstream sensibilities, socially-aware lyrics, intriguing atmospheres and stunning instrumental and vocal performances, this is a unique album that is warmly recommended to progressive music fans.
Samsarana is out on January 25th; pre-order the album here.