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Emily Bezar


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Operatic ethereal evocative/eclectic music drawn from varied influences, with an experimental flavour and jazz elements.

Status:

Most recent album, Fooled By Yesterday (2011)

See also:

Emily Bezar's site

Emily Bezar's MySpace page

Emily Bezar previously sang with the Potato Eaters.

Comparisons:

An operatic Kate Bush singing art songs rather than pop. (Neile)

For a point of stylistic reference, think Mary Fahl from October Project—they don't do the exact same thing with their voice, but they do what they do similarly (if that makes sense). (woj@smoe.org)

Some off the top of my head: Todd Rundgren (listen to "Orestes" and compare to Todd's a cappella album...), blackgirls (I doubt this is an influence, but Emily has the same pseudo-random feel to her), and Kate Bush, esp. Ninth Wave-era. Plus some of it reminds me of Tori Amos (the piano, in particular, the voice a bit, though Tori really is very different and closer to mainstream). There's also a noticeable Emerson Lake and Palmer element in there somewhere. (mjmjminla@yahoo.com)

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

I liked her so much that I have no qualms about lobbying heavily on her behalf here. If you listen to music; particularly if you like well-trained soprano voices accompanied by hauntingly beautiful piano and synth; if you're not afraid to listen to music that is somewhere between (let's get it over with) Kate Bush and Dawn Upshaw (a "classical" music soprano) with some elements of jazz, and some incredible lyrics (any of which could stand on its own as a poem) then consider yourself as having read my heartiest recommendation.
     The production values are quite good, and the music is emotional, poignant at times, but not sentimental. It's at times excited, and at others ambient, but always interesting and satisfying on the deepest levels. The work as a whole is very artistic, not "poppy", and completely unlike anything I've ever heard before...as I'm sure, my esteemed colleagues will concur. Those expecting a Kate-like (or Happy-like, or, like, Tori-like) experience, be forewarned, she's not a "traditional, confessional lyricist"...no "Silent All These Years" (or other more obvious choices from the EcTo canon). While her personal experience informs her lyrics, she denies that she's ever singing about herself, per se.
     To be sure, Emily's music is not an instant-love phenomenon...but that's no novel experience for ectophiles. It's not that here's anything "difficult" about it...nothing that makes you cringe the first X times you hear it. What sometimes DOES happen is that one needs to penetrate the experience of having been exposed to so much synth-laden music that was so mediocre. Patience (more than perseverance) is the key...allow it to unfold in all its richness (and rich it is...no minimalist, she). Her lyrics can be cryptic (admittedly, even to her, on occasion) but there is such poetry within as to overwhelm you...if you're receptive.
     It is, alas, not for everyone. Some people don't have the patience...They need to be grabbed by some more obvious handle (I've opined enough about hook-y songs). And her voice is, well, operatic (an initial obstacle for me) but, maybe, this is more of what opera should have in it...beautiful voice, in a language that one understands, with contemporary (but not trendy) themes buried (and I do mean buried) within.
     Neither ambient nor pop, it may only oddly (or only occasionally) fit your day, but there's no predicting that. It does not work as sonic wallpaper...it's too demanding for that...still, it's engaging in its way and quirky in some others and baroquely festooned in still others.
     Emily Bezar compares herself more to Joni Mitchell than to anyone else (but will make the Tori Amos/Kate Bush comparisons for other people's benefit). She thinks of herself as belonging to the artsong tradition (just modern, is all)...and she's obviously experimenting with genres...Grandmother's Tea Leaves was obviously electronic, The Moon in Grenadine is more poppy but still transgenre...not even fusion...different genres from song to song and some that aren't in a given genre.... It's more song-oriented than Grandmother's Tea Leaves (where Grandmother's Tea Leaves was VERY much about the sonic experience).
     Emily Bezar's piano-playing is only recently (The Moon in Grenadine) jazz-influenced....
     Listening in chronological order is best, in my opinion... But be forewarned that they are each different, with The Moon in Grenadine and Four Walls Bending being *somewhat* similar in that they are less "sonically" oriented and more concerned with "the song". They are, of course, all similar in that they are undisputably :) wonderful, albeit in different ways.
     I took two listens to be blown away. I emailed Emily in 1994 asking for a station copy for the radio station I was working for. She replied, sent one and waited for my impression. At this point I was worried that I'd gotten into a situation where I was going to be faced with either lying or having to tell an artist (make that Artist) that her work was not to my liking. Fortunately, I was so thoroughly won over, that giving my complete and truthful opinions without discomfort.
     When The Moon in Grenadine came out, I had to readjust my ears (expecting the same experimentation and drama). When I made the jump, I landed in a lovely place, again. More song-oriented, but just as beautiful and deep.
     Four Walls Bending forced yet another jump. And I am once again surrounded by beauty.
     She's easily one of my favorite artists.
     As for the inevitable? Tori comparisons I've found myself comparing her more (in my own mind) to David Sylvian (particularly Damage and Gone To Earth)...Go figure. In any event... Please... Enjoy those CDs. They're all wonderful in their own way. (Chris@neuron.uchu.edu)

An operatic-style Kate Bush? With Tori's allusive lyrical style? Maybe. This is highly individual music, on the edge. It's not pop. (Neile)

Eerie, lovely, and hard to pigeonhole. Occasionally maddeningly uncommercial, but after a while it will bring you around to its way of thinking. (dixon@physics.Berkeley.EDU)

...her voice...wow—very controlled, very precise, very strong. Emily Bezar plays solo keyboards and sings. The style is difficult to explain. It's not pop music or serious composition, but has elements of both. She has an exquisite sense of melody and rhythm which flows forth in her voice and her playing. her voice, as I mentioned, is magnificent. (woj@smoe.org)

People describe her as an operatic Kate Bush, but an operatic Tori Amos really seems a more apt comparison, if a trifle obvious given her emotional and contorted piano playing. I was also occasionally reminded of Mary Margaret O'Hara and Hugo Largo. Various comments had led me to believe that the music would not be inviting, but would instead be a difficult listen. I didn't find that to be the case at all. I did feel she tended to be a bit too intellectual in her writing, often hiding emotions behind cleverness. That seems odd to me, given the highly emotional manner in which she performs. (neal)

In her voice I can hear a certain resemblance to Tori Amos, though I'd be more inclined to say Kate Bush at her most operatic. She has an incredible range. I am completely in awe of her voice, her songwriting, her musicianship. (trow@interbridge.com)

Emily's lyrics are a large part of what appeals to me about her music. But then again, I've always been a sucker for lyrics that didn't exactly bop you over the head with Their One And Only Possible Meaning. ;)
     Back in the day on Love-Hounds (the Kate Bush email list), there used to be a descriptor we used when talking about KaTe's music: "that KaTe-Bush-y feel". It's kind of hard to describe, but to me it means there is some confluence of lush musical arrangements, stirring instrumentation, and gorgeous, soaring vocals. Emily's last two albums, Moon In Grenadine and Four Walls Bending are brimming with "KaTe-Bush-y" moments. I've often spoken of them as the albums we wished KaTe had made over the past 10 years.
     Vocally, there is a lot of similarity there as well. Emily has a degree in opera, so she's more schooled and mannered than KaTe (actually, overall I have to say she's a better musician than KaTe, simply because she had all those years of training).
     I would highly recommend picking up all of Emily's albums. I'm sure you'll be glad you did. (meth@smoe.org)

I tend to describe her stuff, especially with the last two albums, as a progressive/jazz hybrid with operatic-style vocals. Her first CD was one that fit as "the album we wish Kate Bush had put out this year," but the last two have moved away from that somewhat in my opinion. And in a good way. :) (mcurry@io.com)

Bezar is a classically-trained musician—both as a vocalist and a pianist. This shows in her vocal work particularly; in her singing there are long, sustained notes that recall the tones of opera singers Jessye Norman and Dawn Upshaw. Most people, however, will put her in the Kate Bush/Tori Amos category (the delicate piano ballads, and she *does* sound awfully like them). However, Bush and Amos, for all of their fantastical storytelling chops and love of the twee and mystical, are pop artists. Bezar is not. (ethereal_lad@livejournal.com)

Actually, Bezar is not so much *weird* as she is *experimental*—it doesn't hurt to have a grounding in 20th century atonal music when you listen to her, and some of her piano work on Grandmother's Tea Leaves is a real trip. (rkonrad@ibm.net)

She has had conservatory training, which of course could mean bupkis if she only had the technical skills, and not the ability to create music that utilized those skills (but of course she does use those skills amazingly). (paul2k@aol.com)

Emily's music is SO subtly layered...and even though Moon in Grenadine isn't a "sonic experience" in the traditional (read: Grandmother's Tea Leaves) sense, there are still little hidden bits of acoustica (I did NOT just use that word! Somebody get out the gun!) that just simmer up from the songs...and it's neat, I had to listen to Moon in Grenadine for a few months before it finally totally clicked with me, but now, the process of listening to Four Walls Bending before it clicks is interesting...I keep almost figuring out what the equation is between me and that album...I've figured it out for Moon in Grenadine, that was what clicked...but Four Walls Bending is much more elusive, it's taking its time before fully just opening up and flooding out of my stereo like warm bathwater...right now, I'm about up to my knees, and it's the jacuzzi after the jets are off, just still water outside at night in south Florida humidity, it's got that feeling...but soon, oh soon, everything is going to make perfect sense, and I can't wait. Mmm!
     Long live Queen Emily the Delicate. (John.Drummond)

She is definitely a complex and fascinating artist worth the investment in listening time. Comparisons to others are of course inaccurate but inevitable, so here's my take. There are moments she reminds me of Kate Bush, and then others of Happy Rhodes' ethereal side. Veda Hille at times too—including piano treatments. Some arrangements remind me of the old progressive band called The Enid—yes, I know I'm dropping references now that would make Dennis Miller scratch his head. But I will say, redundantly, if you know what I'm talking about (re: The Enid), then you know what I'm talking about (re: Emily). I think.
     At the risk of making this "review" even more bizarre, I'd postulate an inverse conceptual direction to Jane Siberry. Jane's early material was on the pop side, and evolved into a very jazz-influenced sound. Emily's early material has a distinct jazz influence, evolving to a more accessible sound on Four Walls Bending. Not saying they sound similar, even inversely, just interesting inverse musical directions. On a meta level...sort of. Sense making not, suppose I. (foghornj@earthlink.net)

Wave after wave, I am swept up in her brilliance. Each listen brings new discoveries. The oddest bits of her songs pop up in my mind days later. Her sound is luxuriant and challenging. Any comparisons are bound to fall short. Each album is distinct, and each demands a new aural leap of faith. Leaps well worth taking.
     Give in. Worship her. Now. (jbehel@rush.edu)

Emily Bezar is one of my favorite new discoveries. I can't believe that this time last year I didn't know who she was, didn't have any of her albums, didn't know how deprived I was!! (JoAnn Whetsell)

Comments about live performance:

I had never heard a note of her music before seeing her perform live about a year ago, and just instantly fell in love with the gorgeous sound. The interplay between Emily and the fabulously talented members of her band is a joy to experience! Count me in as another huge Emily Bezar fan. (trow@interbridge.com)

I was, to say the least, a casual fan of Emily's before I saw her live. I had heard Grandmother's Tea Leaves a few times and liked it, but hadn't gotten around to getting a copy of my own, and didn't have any particular plans to buy Moon in Grenadine. Then, after meeting Emily and hearing her perform at this intimate little show, I bought both cds. I'm not a casual fan anymore. (mcurry@io.com)

Emily Bezar gave a beyond-fantastic, fabulous, wonderful, intense, and truly mesmerizing performance at the Living Room on Sunday night.
     Seeing Emily play live was more amazing, more intense than I had imagined, and I was really really excited for this concert. She had a bass player and a guitarist with her, and even though they'd only had one rehearsal together, they sounded great. (I think the guitarist was from her former group The Potato Eaters). Emily plays with such intensity, moving her head and body and sometimes pounding the piano keys so that I could actually feel it in my body. In between songs she talked with the audience, checked on her son. She's very down-to-earth. I think my favorite song was "Rain in Calgary" which was just so...wow.
     It occurred to me a few times throughout the show that I was sitting without moving, just so in awe. The only word I could think of to describe it was being absolutely mesmerized. Later I saw one of the posters for the show and it had a one-word quote from some newspaper or magazine or something that said "Mesmerizing." And I thought, how often do you see those things and think, yeah right, that's just hyperbole. But here it was so true. It's the best way I can think of to describe the effect of Emily's performance on me.
     So, definitely go see her live if you get a chance. (JoAnn Whetsell)

This was the first time that I have had the pleasure of seeing Emily perform. Her music is intelligent, intricate, and yet very emotionally moving. To my frame of reference, her music is a mix of Kate, Tori, Keith Jarrett, and Hatfield and the North (a Canterbury prog jazz rock ensemble from the 70s). Her piano playing and dramatic, almost operatic, singing are very affecting. I was not really familiar with her material prior to the gig but I have heard and read many good things about Emily through Ecto posts and the Guide. That is one of the main reasons why I wanted to see her perform. I was very impressed with Emily and plan to order her last two CDs from her web site.
     Another wonderful Ecto discovery! (10/00, wpm@value.net)

Recommended first album:

Four Walls Bending is definitely her most accessible album, though if you like art song or experimental music you will likely be happy with any of her releases. (Neile)

Recordings:


Grandmother's Tea Leaves

Release info:

1993—Olio Records—ORD599

Availability:

Emily Bezar's site

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended. The only caveat is that some people might find the operatic style of her singing here takes a bit of getting used to. (Neile)

Group members:

Emily Bezar—voice, acoustic piano, sampled piano, synthesizers, and sound design

Guest artists:

Michael Ross (2 cuts)
The Arlekin String Quartet (one cut)

Produced by:

Emily Bezar

Comments:

I must say it is excellent. A little different from standard, but I knew that already, being a fan of her live performances.... (rholmes@cs.stanford.edu)

She is different and very interesting. I love the piano and the voice. It is like alternative opera almost. I hear very different influences.... Definitely worth checking out. (mjmjminla@yahoo.com)

This album is great and that everyone should buy themselves a copy. I think someone used the phrase "difficult music" to describe her work. I'd say that her music is not pop and leave it at that. While it's mostly just her arrangement on her synthesizers, the album has an orchestrated feel. I like it lots. Go buy. (woj@smoe.org)

Emily Bezar's Grandmother's Tea Leaves is one of my all-time favorite CDs...ever. (Chris@neuron.uchu.edu)

Astonishing complexity; I'm gonna be discovering this thing for months, maybe years to come. (rkonrad@ibm.net)

This just arrived yesterday, and I'm on my first listen, and I LOVE it! (JoAnn Whetsell)

I don't think I've had quite this reaction to an album since Little Earthquakes almost 8 years ago. Not that Grandmother's Tea Leaves sounds anything like Little Earthquakes, but I approached both with high expectations, enjoyed but was mildly disappointed on the first listen. Then on listen #2, I was/am being blown away. Emily refers to Grandmother's Tea Leaves as a "strong brew," and it is a very risky album (operatic vocals, electronic noises, piano, drama and mythology). Heady brew would be a more apt description. Sonically, it's a bit like Mary Lydia Ryan's first album but much more adventurous. (jbehel@rush.edu)


The Moon in Grenadine

Release info:

1996—DemiVox Records, 2625 Alcatraz Avenue #182, Berkeley, CA 94705, U.S.A.—DVX699

Availability:

Emily Bezar's site

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended. (Neile)

Group members:

Emily Bezar—vocals, piano, electronic keyboards

Guest artists:

Morris Acevedo—guitar
Andrew Higgins—bass
Steve Rossi—drums
Chris Grady—trumpet
Dave Barrett—tenor sax

Produced by:

Emily Bezar

Comments:

In this, her second independently produced CD, Emily Bezar shows us that, no matter the tint, her musical vision is clear and strong. Her debut solo CD was rich and ornate and a thoroughly sonic (as well as musical) experience. In contrast, The Moon in Grenadine is an album of songs; an eclectic and unique mix, to be sure, but subtly (perhaps cryptically) linked songs, nonetheless. "Mosquito in the Shade", "Dream Gasoline", and "Dancing Past Elysium" are jazz; or, at least, jazz-y. "40 Mansions" and "Gingerbread" are rock. The remainder are ballads; gentle yet intense, subtle yet theatrical and dramatic.
     Where the first disc consisted almost exclusively of Emily's sweet soprano and her achingly beautiful keyboard work (the Arlekin String Quartet accompanies her on the title track), "Moon in Grenadine" opens with "40 Mansions"; a full-blown arrangement with prominent guitar and drums. It's as if she's staking out the new territory, as she did on Grandmother's Tea Leaves with "Hypertrophia"; a brief, but densely ornamented synthesizer-and-voice instrumental which seems to proclaim, "I am *not* a minimalist!" [The title is taken from a medical term, meaning excessive or exaggerated growth or complexity (of an organ or part).]
     Thanks to the band there's a fullness and a groove on this album that make it more "accessible" than the first; which had a pervasive intimate, even haunted feeling; owing in part to the absence of other musicians. More zealous devotees of that first, nearly perfect work, might bristle; maintaining that by making her music more accessible Emily has sold out. Not so...in my humble opinion. While Moon in Grenadine, is more song-driven than Grandmother's Tea Leaves, it's still wonderfully eccentric and, above all else, beautiful. Her lyrics are as romantic (and cryptic), but Emily cites disparate influences. Singer-songwriters such as Joni Mitchell and early '80s rock vocalists such as the lead singer of The Motels, keep strange company with Strauss and Webern and contemporary composers such as John Adams.
     She compares her voice to Kate Bush's and Dawn Upshaw's. The quality of her voice and the uniqueness of her compositions are like Kate's, in that neither of them is like anyone else, but she's no Kate clone. Neither is she cut from the angry-young-woman cloth that has recently yielded a spate of chanteuses such as Tori Amos or Alanis Morissette; for unlike these iconoclasts, Emily exercises subtlety and (heaven forbid) art in the crafting of her lyrics. Her lyrics, which could stand as poems, are (she says) "confessional...from a distance". "Gingerbread" tells a story of betrayal, but not Emily's. I find this refreshing in a scene overcome with performers whose angst-ridden lyrics derive "authenticity" from the fact of their being autobiographical. Ms. Bezar *creates* characters and stories, and she tells us about ourselves and herself indirectly. The words don't merely rhyme and inform; they flow and evoke. The meter and phrasing are complex and tense, yet unfold easily and unhurriedly, in the more energetic pieces as well as in the ballads. These stories are filled with allusion and imagery beyond anything that I've heard recently (with the possible exception of prog rock elders such as David Sylvian), and so, they occasionally bewilder.
     Lovers of her first album should take heart. There are still plenty of long instrumental passages in which Ms. Bezar gets to show-off her newly acquired jazz chops, her voice is as sweet as ever, and (behind the more complex orchestration) the music is still all Emily. (Chris@neuron.uchu.edu)

Each and every Kate Bush fan who is pining away for something new from the Goddess needs this album to tide them over in the meantime. That's probably an unfair comparison, but one has to start somewhere. How else do you describe music that is lush, jazzy, operatic, and just plain gorgeous, overlaid with a VERY Kate-like voice singing lyrics that are rather oblique at times, the kind that keep you listening over and over again to catch the nuances? Tasty. (meth@smoe.org)

A powerful album, wide-ranging in style, a touch more song-oriented than Grandmother's Tea Leaves but still innovative and complex. It's extravagant and eclectic. Emily Bezar's music is highly individual and doesn't sound like anything but her, even though there are elements from jazz and pop and rock. (Neile)

Emotionally complex and, at times ("Rain in Calgary," "Ever Mine," etc.) incredibly moving. (dixon@physics.Berkeley.EDU)

I think it's very beautiful. Jazzrock is normally not my cup of tea, but Emily's music moves me, sometimes very much (like 'Rain in Calgary'). (Marion)

This one hasn't quite grabbed me yet, but I am definitely leaning towards it. It sounds like something I would expect to find highly recommended on ecto. A little Kate Bush, a little Tori Amos, and more. This one will grow on me I am sure. (Horter3)

I just love this album! Emily Bezar's voice, combined with the jazzy instrumentation reaches out and touches something in me. As is often the case with albums I end up loving as much as this one, I had to listen to it quite a few times before I discovered how great an album it really is. I am highly tempted to say that I have become addicted to it. Technical note: This is an HDCD recording. Excellent! This is an album I play again and again. (Alvin.Brattli@phys.uit.no) Brilliant. (rkonrad@ibm.net) I bought Emily Bezar's Moon in Grenadine on the strength of Ecto reviews. I didn't get into it. I found her voice annoyingly operatic. It seemed very out of place in the songs. I love soaring female vocals, but Emily's seemed too showy. The music was also impossible for me to appreciate. (stuart@sph.emory.edu)

The opening track, "40 Mansions," rocks as much any Tori-with-a-full-band song. But there are dramatic dissonances in her singing that go against the grain of folk-based compositions, and her diction/phrasing on other verses is distinctly operatic. The track also highlights her jazz-influenced piano playing and love of obscure imagery: she describes the female half of a battling couple: "40 lovers had she/in a year/ Daughter of Medici..."; elsewhere, she says mournfully of the male half: "I made a bomb of your/Golden contraband/ I made a bomb/ for it looked like a battlefield to me...". But it's not until the second song, "Mosquito in the Shade", that it becomes clear that this album is *fusion*, not rock. This song is a light loungey samba, and it feels like a gem unearthed from the 1920s. It's something I could imagine Daisy and Jay dancing to, while the society ladies of the Nouveau Riche make oh-so-droll comments. The lyrics, however, are written from the viewpoint of one who's jaded by romance. The specter of Zelda Fitzgerald makes a comeback in "Dream Gasoline." Against a big band backdrop, Bezar observes a rich woman's descent into madness and ennui: "A tavern in England/ A beach in Antibes.../The queen down the Nile/ With her Cairo of thieves...Sometimes she mistakes these things for her home...Sane into Sadness/Goes Bland into Madness...". "Chevalier Lune" is as evanescent and classic as a Gershwin tune, her delicate piano describing her ambivalence about romance, personified by the moon: "O moon, Chevalier Lune/ Seduced and perfumed.../I only wanted to kill your circumference...". In "Opiate Cheer", she's as dewy-eyed as a Harry Connick song, contrasting images of chaos and decay with the obsessive gaze of the lover. Each of Bezar's songs have something to distinguish them, whether it's the wonderful piano-playing, the brassy blare of horns, or her gorgeous, always startling voice. It's highly reminiscent of Joni Mitchell's Hejira in its use of jazz references. (ethereal_lad@livejournal.com)

This album was my introduction to Emily. I had been really curious about her work since we went to the same college (Oberlin). I remember the first time I listened to it and heard that intense "For"[ty] that opens the album. I wasn't sure what I was in for, but by the time I got to the end of the album, I could tell that it was something to love, and I immediately istened to it again. Some of the music is jazzy; some of it is slow and dreamy. It's all gorgeous. "Dream Gasoline" and "Rain in Calgary" are still my favorite songs she's done. (JoAnn Whetsell)


four walls bending

Release info:

1999—DemiVox Records, 2625 Alcatraz Ave. #182, Berkeley CA 94705, U.S.A.—7-8918-10799-2-9

Availability:

Emily Bezar's site

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Emily Bezar—voice, piano, keyboards and sound programming

Guest artists:

Morris Acevedo—guitar
Andrew Higgins—bass, cello samples on "Four Walls Bending", additional production on 2 tracks
Steve Rossi—drums
Michael Ross—guitar loops on 2 tracks
Justin Phelps—additional production on 2 tracks

Produced by:

Emily Bezar

Comments:

This is another really beautiful album by Emily, and I like it better each time I listen to it. "Mainstream" is not a word to be applied to Emily's music, but something approaching that, at least in comparison to her previous albums, might be the right word. Just meaning that it's a bit more accessible than Grandmother's Tea Leaves and The Moon in Grenadine. Somewhat more rock- and pop-influenced, and it seems that she uses her lower register a bit more. There are even some crunchy guitars and guitar loops and guitars, (some actually sounded too electric to me on the 1st couple listens, but I didn't notice them this time). But still very much the same classically based, art song music, with the gorgeous piano playing and her stunning voice.
     Four Walls Bending is one of the two albums I would most miss if I had to give up my 1999 releases. (JoAnn Whetsell)

I love Emily's first two CDs, but Four Walls Bending is her most cohesive and accessible work to date. She said a lot of her musician friends have been telling her it's her best yet, which is always a good sign. :) Plus the CD booklet is gorgeous, too. Not only is the woman a fantastic singer, keyboard player, and producer, she's a great graphic designer, too!! (trow@interbridge.com)

Four Walls Bending is wonderful, and sure to stand the test of time. This album, I think, will be welcome in the ears even of those who found the vocal stylings in her discs too operatic or the music too experimental for their tastes. Four Walls Bending is still unconventional, but it is definitely more accessible. Amazing how Emily Bezar has managed to create an album that is so engaging without diluting her individuality or her wonderfully creative songwriting, musicianship, and exceptionally beautiful singing. (Neile)

Add me to the list of those who really love Four Walls Bending. My copy arrived in the mail yesterday and I've already listened to it a few times, so I can safely say that it may indeed be her best album to date. It was love at first listen for me, and subsequent listens have only made me appreciate the album even more.
     I'll also agree that it probably is her most accessible album, so if you don't own any of Emily's CDs then Four Walls Bending would be a great one to start with.
     Anyway, I had really high hopes for this CD and it has still managed to exceed them all. It's easily going to make my best of 1999 list. I was expecting another great album from Emily... but not quite this great. My favorite of her releases to date. (mcurry@io.com)

Wow. Throughout my very first listen a barrage of "best of the year" vibes were coming out of the CD player. It's lush, it's demanding, it's gorgeous, and it shakes these four walls when you crank the bass on the equalizer. Tasty doesn't even begin to describe it. I can't stop listening to it.
     This is #1 on my year-end list. It's utterly addictive and wonderful. I know the comparisons are endless, but they are certainly apt: this is the album Kate Bush should've put out five years ago. Emily's voice soars and swoops over music that is as much prog as jazz and lush-ecto-ness, and the songs stick in my head for hours (especially the standout track, "Lead"). This one is going to be living in my car for a long time to come. (meth@smoe.org)

It definitely is her best and most accessible work...but I'm going to have to give it a few more listens to really be able to discern the (I think significant) differences between it and Moon in Grenadine...but anyhow...my first impressions are extremely strong, it's everything I liked about Moon in Grenadine and even more awesome stuff...the little electronic flourishes are just perfect...if she hadn't done such a lush job of creating the whole sound of the album, the electronics would be so totally out of place...but the whole thing sounds just like...like Godiva chocolate...mmmmmmm...but anyhow, again, a more thorough review and commentary will ensue once I've given it a few more good hard listens with the lyric sheet...as of now, I haven't even really looked at the lyrics yet...but I'm excited. And yeah, the graphic design *was* done beautifully. (John.Drummond)

It's just as cool as I'd hoped. She has made a beautiful, innovative and ravishing record. Album of the year for me. (stjarnell@yahoo.com)


Angels' Abacus

Release info:

2004—Demivox Records—CVX899

Availability:

Emily Bezar's site

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Emily Bezar—vocals, piano, keyboards, string arrangements, horn arrangements, drum programming

Guest artists:

Jon Evans—bass on 10 tracks, percussion on 2 tracks
Laurence Cattle—bass on 3 tracks
Dan Foltz—drums on 5 tracks
Ralph Salmins—drums on 2 tracks
Tim Pettit—drum programming on 3 tracks
Michael Ross—guitar on 1 tracks, keyboard on 1 track
Jeff Lewis—flugelhorn on 1 track, trumpet on 1 track
Marika Hughes—cello on 1 track

Produced by:

Emily Bezar; 3 tracks by Emily Bezar and Tim Pettit

Comments:

it's so marvelous to have brand new Emily music again, for the first time in four years. I feel like I'm still getting to know it; there's a lot to absorb here—the CD is almost 80 minutes long! (trow@interbridge.com)

It's just an amazing piece of work, and it's definitely going to make my list of the top albums of 2004. (mcurry@io.com)


Exchange

Release info:

2008—Demivox Records—DVX1000

Availability:

Emily Bezar's site

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Emily Bezar—voice, keyboards, horn and string arrangements except violin parts on "Winter Moon"

Guest artists:

Dan Feiszli—electric and acoustic basses
Mark Bernfield—drums
Michael Ross—guitar
Phillip Greenlief—soprano, alto, and tenor saxophones
Chris Grady—trumpet
Jen Baker—trombone
Alan Lin—violin
Beth Vandervennet—cello

Produced by:

Emily Bezar

Comments:

It's an absolutely fantastic album. Takes longer to get inside your system than her last, but absolutely rewards close and repeated listenings.
     My favorites are "Lament" (great ballady song built on a really haunting chord progression that shifts into another really great piano theme toward its close), "Heavy Air" (awesome horn harmonies, also has a cool melodic shift toward the end), "Strange Man" (this synthesizes her jazz and her electronic leanings within the same song more than I've ever heard before, and uses an electronic sound that sounds a lot like the one on "Just Like Orestes," my favorite song from Grandmother's Tea Leaves) and "Climb," an almost jaunty and theatrical jazz-ish song where she uses entirely different vocal phrasing than I've ever heard from her before... It also has a cool thing toward the end, where multi-tracked voices start going "ooo-ooo" in a way that reminds of Bacharachian pop or the theme song from the original Star Trek. (timjy@sbcglobal.net)

Exchange is a gorgeous and complex album. Not as easy to get into as Angels' Abacus (and even that album took me a while), but so worth the effort. It feels like it takes off from Angels' Abacus, like Emily was expanding her boundaries, pushing herself further. It's more jazzy, and there are places where she really lets the band go. "That Dynamite," one of my favorite tracks, may be a good starting place for getting into the album. (JoAnn Whetsell)


Thanks to Barbara Hart and JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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