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Tr?game Tierra

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Trágame Tierra
Trágame Tierra


First the facts. Big Black Delta is Jonathan Bates. And Jonathan Bates is Big Black Delta. Tr?game Tierra is his second album as a solo artist under the moniker. Pinning down a narrative through line? That's a bit harder. Like any conversation with the Los Angeles musician, the train of thought hits several different stations at once, as he rapidly attempts to spitball a suitable album/life tagline. - I'm doing the best I can. - Don't be a dick and make something cool. - I don't care about music as much as I care about the human condition. There might be some truth to that last one. Bates regularly nudges any conversation about his work into a discussion of his Tr?game Tierra guests, praising their talent and personalities in equal parts. Kimbra's youthful musicality and poise. Dhani Harrison's background vocals on Well My Heart. And 1980s pop poster-girl Debbie Gibson, whose wiliness to sing on a relatively unknown musician's album taught him more than he had anticipated. While writing Tr?game Tierra, a process that began shortly after finishing up the promotional cycle on his debut Bbdlp1, Bates had a large portion of his equipment stolen. His father also passed away. From the 150 songs he initially wrote, 12 made it on the first version of the record So, Bates rewrote the album, indulging in all his creative impulses - often at the same time. The resulting genre-gobbling collection of songs might surprise fans. ("It has a lot of WTF moments," Bates confirms) After all, last time we met, his darkly romantic songs were predominantly tied together with ear-shattering walls of drums and keys. He's still offering a larger than life version of himself, strutting through the crackling electronics like a latter-day David Bowie. But now there's more. More icy Scandinavian-leaning beats ("Overlord"). More near-country acoustic warmth ("Well My Heart," which also features a vocal assist from Dhani Harrison). More live instrumentation (see: the clarinet-driven refrain of "Strange Cakes," brought to you by Jaga Jazzist's Lars Horntveth). And more odd and often exciting choices that split the difference between 1980s cartoon, underground rave, and voyage to the moon. (Start with "Kid Icarus," but realize this statement could apply to the album as a whole). But most of all, it's a multi-layered collection of songs that points back to its creator, caring. Maybe more than anyone.


  1. Name
  2. H.A.
  3. Steer The Canyon
  4. RCVR feat. Debbie Gibson
  5. Bitten By The Apple feat. Kimbra
  6. Kid Icarus
  7. Overlord
  8. Well My Heart
  9. Let's Go Home
  10. It's OK
  11. Strange Cakes
  12. I See Fit
  13. Tr?game Tierra
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