Deep Bloom - Roah Summit
It is amazing to me what musicians can create with just a bit of spirit and ingenuity. In a world where you can create tones with just the stroke of a key on a laptop I am always pleased when I hear of a band that not only uses electronics and synthesizers, but can also play classic instruments and even find a way to bring genre specific instruments outside of their genre and implement them in new and fascinating ways. Roah Summit, a six piece out of Costa Mesa, CA, has found a fine balance between old school and new school that works incredibly well.
The first track, 'Secrets,' is a quiet, rhythmic tune that is overlaid with soulful lyrics and dreamy guitar work. The lyrics are strong and catchy, mixing well with the overall ethereal tone of the song. The twangy pitch of a steel guitar can be heard in 'Upside Down,' a slower, almost acoustic track that picks up temp towards the middle and ends with vocal chanting and tempered drums that play for an unseen march. The similar sounding 'Mother American' is a bit faster and has sorrowful lyrics that justify the empty feeling after you've said goodbye to the one(s) you love. A steel guitar pops up again in this track, but is used to lay out an interesting solo that rounds out the song nicely.
The instrumental 'Big Sky' is an amalgam of digital echoes and sound effects, creating a sweeping track that is almost transcendent. The minimal use of drums and shakers adds to the otherworldly effect, giving the listener the fantastical illusion of soaring high above the clouds. In the last and longest track, 'Pocotello,' the lead vocalist stands alone as he sings softly into the microphone, his words haunting and painful at first, then breaks down into heavy synthesizers and guitars. The track tapers off as an array of noises bombard the senses and finally fades out with a glitchy, buzzy guitar.
My only issue when listening to the album was that I used the Spotify platform, which is not exactly one of my favorite ways to hear music as my listening experience was interrupted by a loud commercial and would not let me proceed until all thirty seconds had been played. (I would recommend using iTunes or soundcloud instead as it is much more convenient and user friendly.) Other than that, the album was written and performed beautifully by the band, consisting of Jake Berry on vocals and guitar, Drew Chaffee on lead guitar, Jay Odebunmi on drums, Tyler Spry on the Lap Steel guitar, Max Epstein on bass, and Kevin Clark on the synthesizer. I am always intrigued when new bands utilize classic instruments in new and exciting ways, and that is what drew me to this album so much. I would definitely recommend this album to alternative fans and I wish the best of luck to the guys in Roah Summit on their future endeavors.
I had the pleasure of interviewing some of the members to learn more about the album, so check out their answers below!
Interview with Roah Summit
1. Tell me a little bit about your background and why you formed Roah Summit.
Jake Berry: I think we all tried a couple different things before forming Roah Summit. I finally found a vision for the project and the right guys came along.
2. What/Who are your musical influences?
JB: A lot of inspiration comes from music my parents listened to, such as: Johnny Cash, James Taylor, Dylan, Blondie, and newer bands like Death Cab For Cutie, Delta Spirit, Justin Vernon, Arcade Fire, etc.
Drew Chaffee: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Radiohead, Justin Vernon, Wilco, Mississippi John Hurt
Tyler Spry: There is so much great music out there that we could mention, but what's really cool is the plethora of fantastic stuff that's being released right now. To name a few really solid artists that released records recently: Blake Mills, Philip Selway, Daniel Lanois; check all of that stuff out.
Jay Odebunmi: Herbie Hancock and The National
3. What inspired you to write this album?
JB: A lot of the songs on this EP are about family. I wrote these songs when I was young and figuring out how to grow up so I guess a lot of it comes from that.
4. On the album there is quite an array of instruments used. What types of instruments do you enjoy experimenting with the most?
JB: I think our favorite kind of sounds come from Kevins synth most of the time. We want to experiment with that a lot more on the next album. As well as messing around with weird vocal sampling.
DC: Playing with the Op
TS: There has always been something about steel guitar that drew me in, the way it can convey emotion unlike other instruments. So I love taking the classic approach to steel and treating it like an electric guitar or synth, experimenting with different processing and effects. That's actually how we came up with the lap steel solo on "Mother American." Oh, and Kevin is a synth lord, and the things that he can create with his array of synthesizers are unreal. We'll walk into rehearsal and hear him messing around with new sounds that just shut us right up and kick start a new writing session.
KC: In the experimentation side of things... I love the tones that we have been able to achieve with all of our instruments, and I am intrigued by what the tone can do to an instrument. Creating a unique tone can turn something into something that it wasn't before and I think there's a magic to that.
5. How do you feel about the digital revolution in music and has it helped or hindered your success?
DC: [It has] definitely helped us, but guitar effects have been around since the 60s; now it's just easier to manipulate the sound.
TS: It has absolutely helped us. We're really fortunate to live in a time where artists can independently write, record, and fully distribute their music without the assistance of a label. All of it just enables more creativity and collaboration, so we're all for it.
KC: The digital Revolution is crazy. It opens up a platform for new artists, but also I think [it] creates new challenges as well. It's kind of an oxymoron. There's a documentary called Press Pause Play that answers this question brilliantly.