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Patchy. - 60%

Perplexed_Sjel, June 8th, 2010

My metal listening habits seem to take me from one empire built around the idea of minimalism to another. From black metal, to funeral doom and now folk metal, a genre I normally associate with overly joyous experimentation and sickeningly sweet avant-gardé touch. Bauda, a one man project formed by the multi-talented César Márquez, is a Chilean folk band with a difference. Although Chile isn’t a haven for well known metal acts, I have come across a few bands from this region of South America that have blown my socks off. Uaral, for example, are a terrific example of how to intricately meld affective folk music with the more extreme side of metal, that being doom in the case of Uaral. I’ve even had the pleasure of listening to an associated band of Bauda’s in Animus Mortis, a band with whom César Márquez used to provide bass for. On this occasion, he doesn’t only supply bass for his new project, but he also supplies the accordion touches, acoustics, electric guitar, percussion, synthesizer and, oddly, the didgeridoo, an instrument I would never have expected a Chilean folk band to use.

Given the size of the task at hand, since he’s constructing the music himself without the help of other experienced musicians, he does use two guest musicians to supply small aspects, but nothing that takes away the limelight from his own personal performance. ‘Oniirica’, the debut full-length in Bauda’s discography, is a multi-layered, multi-faceted album which takes a number of listens to really get to grips with. Unfortunately, on occasions, the essence of the band is lost due to the complicated extent of the layers which features acoustics, electric guitar, synthesizers and vocals all occurring simultaneously in one small space. The self-titled song is a prime example of how easily Márquez manages to lose his message in translation as he fails to hold down all the aspects of the instrumentation, and his vocals, given the size of the task he had given himself. This is an issue which does, unfortunately, become a bit of a problem as he tries to juggle one aspect with another.

Whilst I admire the attempt, which does feature some breath taking moments in song writing, I do feel he was a tad naïve when he recorded this album because it’s obvious that he isn’t capable, at the moment, of keeping everything in check and making sure that nothing is lost in the clutter that occurs on songs like the self-titled and even further into the album on songs like ‘Trastornos’, a song which also features a bludgeoning multi-layered approach that Márquez cannot handle properly, perhaps due to his own inexperience of operating within a one man band. I feel this debut was too much, too soon for him and, given time and a much more consistent, cohesive approach to layering the instrumentation that Márquez could very well have a winning formula on his hands here in Bauda but, as it stands, ‘Oniirica’ is a bit hit-or-miss given the extent of the layering, constraining the inspirations behind the music -- from progressive, to folk, to power, to more extreme metal genres -- and not getting too carried away with his own performance.

It would appear that he’s trying much too hard to produce something brilliant in its originality and though this is extremely original, it isn’t a cohesive unit all the way through. I’d prefer the instrumentation to be tighter and pull together as, at times, both his vocals and his instrumental passages seem to be pulling in different directions and failing to collaborate in a way which is best. ‘Trastornos’ is a fantastic example of this. César’s use of Vivien Lalu-esque vocals mixed with power metal high-pitched screams amidst the folksy flutes and progressively tinted guitar work doesn’t quite fit together as well as I’d like. With his apparent use of different influences all in one go, Márquez is putting pieces of different jigsaws in with the wrong batch. He consistently suffers from taking on too much, on every song, not just one or two, but there is an appreciation at the attempt even though it does cause certain aspects to suffer heavily, like the clean guitar work on ‘Purpura’ which is buried beneath too many extravagant layers to compete.

Instead, ends up sounding flat in comparison to the glittering flutes (provided by a guest musician) which are played with a lot of flair. Songs like ‘Purpura’ do exhibit harsher moments with heavier drums (also provided by a guest musician) and a riff-orientated stylistic approach after three or four minutes or experimentation in the vein of his black metal roots. However, given the problems Márquez has with keep everything together, the song ultimately descends into an amateurish pit of issues as the heavier sections overshadows the clean vocals, which become so buried after a while you could be forgiven for forgetting that they’re there, as well as the completely misguided use of acoustics in the background and the cleaner sections -- particularly the flute -- occasionally overshadow the more repetitious harsher sections. As you can tell, it’s a nightmare! All in all, this is a debut that showcases one mans talents in some areas, but also highlights his need to calm down on being so extravagant and highlighting his need for controlling the layers better.