Sonic Reducer: Hide Your Tracks

August March
3 min read
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Just in case you wanna know, Billy Bellmont, a Burqueño multi-instrumentalist, made this record with bassist Terry Burch, guitarist and omnichordist Sean McCullough and drummer Ryan Jarvis between 2010 and 2019.

Further, Bellmont, a musical genius in his own right (okay the other players are too, although emailing earnestly but somewhat solipsistically about your upcoming album does nothing to support that contention) has a new band called Bellemah. A few weeks ago, they put out a record we really liked (by we, what is meant is this author along with his pet chihuahua and a trans-dimensional entity said author refers to as “August”).

And now, to top things off, this one comes out the hatch!

What the author means by “to top things off” is this (begin keyboard intro to the first track, “The Admission”: A fascination with ’80s rock production methodologies and instrumental techniques yields a feeling of familiarity that causes literally 1000 songs from the previously mentioned era to pop into the reviewer’s head, causing a momentary logjam as everything from Peter Murphy to The Fixx and Red Rider jump around in his grayest of gray matter.

But what’s the use of dropping band names or influential song titles? My former managing editor hated that, thinks the author. His aforementioned colleagues agree. So suffice to say this is a super-heady opening for an album that has derivative shadings but remains a new and beautiful thing unto itself.

The album also takes a gritty and grungy approach to defining its own capacity to rock the funk out. The subsequent track proves that in spades that look just like the logo for the label this band found to feature this record. The song is called “Hide Your Tracks,” and it reminds me of something my friends from Champaign might have done in 1994, but hey, I’d always prefer an astronaut. This tune is just spaced out enough for that and as a guide to deeper flights within the vinyl that contains the vision of The Bellmont like a big bell jar full of oven gas and dreams of a brighter tomorrow.

The album is full of thoughtful musical moments that show off a knowing sort of cunning, an Odyssean cleverness that allows rock to be created—not from nothingness—but from the gorgeous and gathered memories of a generation. Examples of this propensity toward evolving the form while preserving the mythology of rock include the triumphantly sad “The Fall” as well as “Everyone Is Here,” a plangent anthem to temporality and time’s insouciant march.

Bellmont’s reach is certainly deep, and like many a great rock band that came before, these cats know their way around the studio and through the past, but most importantly they have a clear idea of where they’re going and how a certain sound is bound to carry them toward those great, if sometimes frightful and fateful heights. Favorite Track: “Countenance and Liberty”: That damn tune lifts off by itself and will fly around in your head forever if you let it.
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