Album review: Morningbell, Bôa Noite 

Bôa Noite, the sixth and latest studio album from Gainesville-based foursome Morningbell, comes as a surprise in its ambitious scale and instrumental lushness, and it takes multiple listens to truly absorb and enjoy it. Bôa Noite was entirely self-produced by the band in their home studio, and its influences include (but aren’t limited to) Finnegan's Wake, Paul Simon, the poems of Jorge Luis Borges, Chopin's polonaises, classic hip-hop, Curtis Mayfield, Kurt Vonnegut and Claude Debussy. Morningbell couldn’t put together a full orchestra, but managed get what they needed over several sessions with multiple classical musicians.

African field recordings of youthful tribal outcries, thick funky-grooving basslines, marching rhythms, marimba-fused percussion, sci-fi swirls and beeps, sweeping strings and horns devolving into frantic, jittering and jolting notes, the one-part aria dramatic, one-part snide-conversational vocals of frontman Travis Atria soaring or creeping over top. And that’s just “We Have Eyes as Well as Ears.” The Phil Spector wall-of-sound moments and epic multi-section arrangements like those of the title track are broken up by quieter melodic interludes (“I Had a Dream,” “Sunrise”), and stunningly beautiful chorales as those of “Listen!” provide a nice rest from overload of instrumental and vocal textures everywhere else, with upwards of 150 instrument tracks used on a single recording. The seemingly disparate elements of psych pop, prog-symphonic rock and sci-fi funk grooviness actually work here, majestic piano set amid Afro-tribal calls and Hungarian folk chants, whispered spoken word, and all manner of other unexpected aural wonders. (Critics Rating: 4 out of 5 stars). Morningbell unveils Bôa Noite to their second home in Tampa Bay this Saturday with strong support from pop experimenters King of Spain and Sarasota indie rock trio The Send Offs.

Morningbell Album Release Party, Sat., April 27, 9 p.m., New World Brewery, Ybor City, $8.


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