Thursday, 31 May 2012

Baio - Sunburn EP

Vampire Weekend bassist Chris Baio is the latest of the New York quartet to delve into other projects. Following on from other works by his bandmates Rostam Batmanglij and Ezra Koenig, Baio has released a three track EP, ‘Sunburn’. Baio’s role in Vampire Weekend is to maintain the interlocking rhythms; the frantic drums, West-African keyboard sounds and tremolo guitar. However, the music on ‘Sunburn’ is a lot more straightforward, more dance-orientated, and further away from Vampire Weekend’s music than expected.

The EP opens with 'Sunburn Modern', its influence sounding more Balearic than West African, guitar stabs, bongo drums and hand claps integrate with pulsing bass, a shuffling drumbeat and stuttering synth lines. Baio’s ability to harmonise all these different tones is more impressive considering how smooth the track sounds. Third track 'Tanto' features the scat vocals of Matias Aguayo, who also appeared on Battles’ “Ice Cream”. Layers of varied percussion transpire behind Aguayo’s choppy vocal melody, before other synth melodies fade in and out effectively. 'Tanto' is by far the EP’s highlight, and a promising sign of what Baio is capable of, if he can replicate its high standard, another solo release would be welcomed.

At this early stage, it‘s difficult to tell whether Baio has the potential to release more music on his own. ‘Sunburn’ consists of only three tracks, one of which, 'Anonymity 1', isn’t entirely captivating. It sounds fine but it feels like a basic idea that doesn’t really go anywhere. There aren’t many conclusions to draw from this release, it is a side project after all, but for its seventeen minute duration, ‘Sunburn’ makes for enjoyable listening.


Calum Stephen

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