A Bardo, in Buddhist mythology, is the state between death and rebirth. An in-between place, which is an apt description for the music that Eric Anders and Mark O’Bitz write.

A prolific songwriting duo from northern California, Anders and O’Bitz’s music is a dazzling blend of Folk Americana. Haunting Folk songwriting with searing Americana sensibilities are trademarks to the duo’s music. Their 2 latest EP releases, Bardo Hauntings I & II are remix EPs. What they offer are complete reimaginations of the songs on their 2020 release, titled American Bardo. They are hauntings in that the original songs are there, but just like specters, they are hidden beneath the sheen of the brilliant remixes, which take the songs somewhere between Americana, Folk, and Electronica. A haunting world explored with professional sensibilities through 6 gorgeous songs.

Away from the mythology, this EP does a very delicate job of shifting the focus from the acoustic guitars of the original songs to glitchy, buzzing electronic elements, transforming them from Folk to the aforementioned eccentric blend, and this is done with striking success. Starting with a foreboding industrial sound with crunchy, distorted drums and ghostly percussion on the starter. Won’t Live It Down was the ethereal closer to the original album. The prominent vocal melody and haunting lyrics are accompanied by a grandiose arrangement that utilizes the industrial sound alongside a dark, synthetic string sound for an atmosphere that’s as airy and expansive as it is oppressive. A sublime starter. The sophomore track, Matterbloomlight, is hypnotic. With a dance beat that leans heavily on ethnic Indian percussion, coupled with a charismatic, evocative vocal delivery with ample space between the eloquent phrases for sound that is breezy, intoxicating, and mythical. Bury Me has a slumbering low tempo and an emotional composition with brilliant introspective lyrics. The atmospheric pads are haunting and spectral and create a mood that’s light and airy, grounded by the dramatic topics and the extremely slow pace. Holding Will is a stunning composition with an inspired soaring sound and a delightful string arrangement. This haunting has a solid, electronic groove, a rhythm that’s stadium-sized, and a vocal delivery that’s colorful and full of character. Judgement Day has a harrowing, deep sound with an ultra-deep bass and a steady beat. The dazzling chord progressions and vocals with healthy space, and composed melodies are perfectly supportive of the vibes of this song, elevating it to be an outstanding closer.

Bardo Hauntings I sees the duo wading new waters. The Folk and Americana songwriting duo set out for a daunting task, and it was executed in a totally professional, calculated manner. The songs on this album have varied sounds and a bunch of unique, inventive ideas, all delivered effortlessly and elegantly. This EP of remixes is a perfectly solid standalone listen; you don’t need to be familiar with the original songs to grasp the beauty within these reimaginings. And on an expected closing note, the originals happen to be just as stunning. 

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