The musical talents of Lisa Papineau, who brings experience from M83 and the Watchmen soundtrack, and Juan Alderete, who has donated ripping bass lines to Racer X and The Mars Volta, have been experimenting under the moniker Big Sir for over a decade. This year they are set to grace us with Before Gardens After Gardens, the third release under their combined efforts.
Before Gardens After Gardens combs the landscape of dynamic experimental diversity with tenacity and expertise. Papineau’s vocals deliver grace and elegance that fits between Imogen Heap and Natasha Khan with a personality and attitude all of her own, putting her in a class of such greats, but most importantly aids in driving this release home.
The album begins unapologetically with “Regions,” an immediate intertwining dance of Papineau’s voice and Alderete’s bass. The mesh of progressive vocals and instrumentals established early on in the album garners the attention of anyone and everyone and should not be missed. Sure, Before Gardens After Gardens brings in a plethora of immensely talented musicians ranging from Money Mark Ramos-Nishita to Matt Embree and Cedric Bixler-Zavala, just to name a few. The true beauty within can be found in the compilation and vision established by the heart and soul of the album; one which could not be formed without the obvious passion from Papineau and Alderete.
As you transcend the plains of modern musical thought with Big Sir, there is one glaring disappointment with the album. It is less than forty minutes long. When looking at an album of such great songs and composition we have to find something to keep it in check.
The last twelve years have brought two musicians to this point. It is a culmination of superb entertainment thrown into eleven tracks. This is the kind of album we’ve waited for to kick off 2012. The bar has been raised for albums this year and at this rate, it’s going to be a great one.