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Barista - Open Sesame Vol 1: Her Dress (Monoplay Records)

27 May 2021

Barista is the Istanbul-based project of musician Bahadır Han Eryılmaz, and they recently released the first volume of their third album entitled Open Sesame. If that’s confusing at all, essentially they had recorded so much music for this album that they are splitting it up and the first part is called Her Dress. It remains to be seen how much of the five planned volumes will maintain a certain level of consistency in quality (a typical problem with any extended album), but the first part definitely sets the bar high. As the colorful artwork suggests, the songs are a vibrant, joyous explosion, and clearly it is a testament to just how much Han loves music. It’s a celebration of different styles from blues to prog to world and psychedelic.

The biggest influences to Han’s concept are the progressive pop of bands like Supertramp and The Alan Parsons Project, but musically everything seems to be up for grabs. There are hints of heartland rock on “In a Dream,” and “Disco Sun” does exactly what it says on the tin. Overall, however, there is a strong undercurrent of Cheap Trick power pop with giant Beatlesque melodies on most songs from “Circular Lives” to “Her Dress” while the vocals from Brian Duffy will inevitably draw comparisons to Steve Perry. Every song on Open Sesame is like some song you heard on the radio in the 70s once and blew your mind even if you never found out the name of the artist. And I think that’s the point. The focus here is not on the ego, but rather the tribute to the transcendent qualities of music itself and consequently the songs here gain so much more potency by this sacrifice of identity.