isham Bharoocha—Soft Circle—is from north Brooklyn. And for all the stereotypes about the north Brooklyn, it’s a peaceful place. Lots of yoga teachers in north Brooklyn. Lots of not-so-great paintings with bright colors and owls in north Brooklyn. Lots of bands into the Native American war whoop—Animal Collective, Liars, Black Dice (for whom Bharoocha used to, well, drum), Gang Gang Dance. The appeal is simple: anyone can do it if they have the sprit, if they let go hard enough to the warmth of hippiedom, if they can tap in to the veins of the feathered serpent Quetzalcoatl and so forth. Much of it is bullshit, but thrilling bullshit, bullshit that promises to break you out of your body by force—the extremity of Liars or the fact that Black Dice started out as a hardcore group—or by new-agey meditation.
Full Bloom is a lithe record. Part of the time, Bharoocha strolls through wordless chants flanked by synth squiggles without a dissonant interval in sight, all deeply om (save the oddly techno bassline of closer “Earthed” or the glorious, off-kilter tangle of synth-marimba on “Sundazed”). The rest of the time, same wordless chanting but now with drums!: big, soft, kiddie drums, thumping along with no particular direction, no panting frenzy, perfectly content to bliss out at medium heat. Either way, the point is that it skims. It’s an absurdly easy listen, which can mean two things: either you will be so deeply into it that you’ll almost forget that it’s on (hypnosis—I did this the other day until a friend snapped me out of it by asking me if it was the soundtrack to Jurassic Park), or you, tired of take-it-or-leave-it jams, might actually just forget that it’s on and do something engaging like walk to the grocery store.
It’s interesting to look back and see how firmly the neo-psych crowd—and there is one; an indie scene weaned on folk, world, contemporary classical, electronic, and other non-rock cues—has split. In 2002 an anxious features writer would’ve been more than happy to lump in acid-folkies with bands like Soft Circle, but records like Full Bloom make it clear that the subliminal patter of exotic gnat-pickers like Bharoocha is definitely coming from the other side of the river from the hurdy-gurdy wail. It’s all rhythm and texture. There’s little ornament and no wit. You could remix it and it’d be big and dumb and gorgeous (Eye from the Boredoms, clearly a huge influence on Bharoocha and a sometime-partner in Gatax, has been doing this in the past several years). [You can’t remix Joanna Newsom without sounding like an ass or Girl Talk.] Full Bloom is a neo-psych album that breaks the routine of immersion by sometimes almost disappearing—it might be a contradiction, but it’s no battier or less charming than a yoga teacher in north Brooklyn.
Reviewed by: Mike Powell
Reviewed on: 2007-03-16