Bonsai Universe

Independent release, 2018

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


If the band name, album title, and artwork didn't give you any significant hints, Bonsai Universe (the brainchild of Woody Aplanalp, formerly of Old Californio) is all about psych and prog rock exploration, though he tosses in plenty of pop and electronica along the way. Though Aplanalp has always used the guitar as his primary weapon (he's also played with Lauryn Hill and Bobby Womack), there's just as much synth to be found on this odd but charming album.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The album leads with the title track, a soft and spacey folky tune with plenty of noises and an ambience that sets the mood for the affair. “Am I Good Enough” follows and might be one of the most straightforward tunes here, with calm, strummed acoustic guitars and a busier background of percussion. “Summertime” is the most sparse tune here, with just an acoustic guitar and multiple vocals for a layering effect.

Near the middle, things shift toward the synth focus with “Why Are My Dreams,” where instrumentals surpass the selections with singing. Of course, there is also more organic – and dare I say, earthy – material present here, like the random guitar tune “Sweet Exaggeration,” which sounds like The Dave Matthews Band gone psych, and the campfire sounding “A Lot Of Nerve.”

Of the otherworldly sounds, “Should I Believe You” is a blurry mix of electronic sounds and “Astronic” is three minutes of droning noise and art. The album ends on the electro-pop meets retro sounds of “Starstream,” where wispy vocals and sounds that are hard to identify seem to perfectly soundtrack a trip through the solar system.

This isn't an album that's for everyone, but for those with liberal ears and an open mind, it's worth a listen. While remnants of Neil Young and The Beatles can be found here, there's really very little comparisons for Bonsai Universe, which will be the ultimate appeal for some.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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