Bryan Deister’s music could perhaps be best described as a twisted marriage between electronica and experimental rock. Hailing from Redondo Beach, CA, Deister is a classically trained composer crafting music for the modern day brooding mind, with his inspiration coming straight from the likes of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain and Radiohead’s Thom Yorke.
Deister’s latest release is Spines of the Heart, a mammoth record that stands at 22 tracks in length. If that should tell you anything, it’s that Bryan Deister is an artist with a lot to say and this album succeeds at doing exactly that. Opening number ‘All That I Have’ is a slow burner that cruises on a single, monotonous groove from start to finish, gathering momentum and adding fuel to the fire as it builds – a formula used heavily on this record. ‘Responding Well’ features an ethereal yet subtly sinister introduction, which is soon before long accompanied by Deister’s delicate voice singing soaring melodies that feel somewhat reminiscent of the late Jeff Buckley. As the track enters its final minute, Deister’s vocals become caked in fuzz and grit, feeling more and more Thom Yorke with every emotional quaver. Within the space of just two tracks, Deister proves himself to be exceptionally crafty with creating vast soundscapes using as little as possible.
The empty space of this record is just as important as its climaxes, even in the moments where it would be tempting for most producers to layer sound upon sound with little to no restraint. ‘Have You’ is an entrancing synth-heavy song with a groove to lose yourself in, while ‘Approaching’ begins as a stripped-back piano number before crashing into a stadium rock outro. Deister unleashes more sinister sounds on ‘The Bread’, which again, feels reminiscent of some of Radiohead’s darker songs, while penultimate track ‘Vacant Eyes’ is one of the album’s more hopeful moments.
Spines of the Heart is a record that needs to be taken in small bites and revisited over time, but it is well worth the effort. The album is a labyrinth of different sounds and directions, yet it all feels cohesive and apart of a larger creation. While there’re many polyrhythms and sophisticated musical content in the DNA of these tracks, Bryan Deister manages to present them in such a way that makes the songs sound incredibly listenable and deeply mesmerizing.