Sometimes you come across an album that just feels like home right from the first note – one you know you are going to keep close at hand and retreat into often. With its warm confluence of melody, mood, and texture and delicate blending of electroacoustic minimalism with cinematic flourish, Geneva by Chris Bartels, aka Blurstem, and Elijah Bisbee is just such an album. First conceptualized in 2019 when Bisbee traveled to Minneapolis and set up a makeshift studio for a few days in Bartels’ living room, the album finally took shape several years later in the kitchen & dining room of an Airbnb aptly named “The Music Ranch” near Lake Geneva in the heart of a Wisconsin winter.
For those not already familiar with the artists, Blurstem is one of several solo and collaborative projects Bartels maintains under the umbrella of Anthem Falls Music. Characterized as a “piano-centric offshoot” of the more ambient-oriented Elskavon, this branch of his work sprouted from experimentations with an old Wurlitzer spinet gifted to him and wife Rebekah when they bought their first house and has been thriving on introspective neoclassical beauty and amicable collaborations ever since. Bisbee is a musician & composer who in addition to his solo work runs a unique program focused on creative development called Terra Retreats as well as coaching services for songwriting, recording, and production.
More than anything else, Geneva is welcoming and easy on the ears, but that ease is earned by consummate attention to the details that went into its production, details which patiently reveal themselves the more carefully one listens. Piano, guitar, strings, synths, percussion, voice, and touches of musique concrète are all deployed with a deft touch across a range of beautiful melodic compositions, ambient sketches, and lush cinematic soundscapes. In advance of its release on the London-based Bigo & Twigetti imprint this Friday, you can enjoy a full streaming preview of Geneva and revel in its abundant charms for yourself.
Geneva will be available beginning July 15, 2022 and features artwork by Sabatina Leccia.