Rod Bourganos: The Psychedelic Rock-n-Roll Journey
By: Miss K
Seated in a small room with the only light oozing from the tangerine hue of a lamp and the laptop screen, I await for the journey that is Rod Bourganos’ music. The shadows dance on the walls as Bourganos’ “Every Current Leads to the Sea” begins. The first track of Rod Bourganos Anthology, 2010-2015 is only a mere glimpse of Bourganos’ music – an impressive history from teenage experimental pieces to the present journey of his companionship in current bands whose diverse sounds are simply electrifying.
Yet even the beginning is impressive in its waves of mesmerizing instrumentals and flowing passages. Rod Bourganos Anthology, 2010-2015 was released on April 23, 2018. The track list is in descending order starting with 2015 and spiraling down to the earlier material. I listened initially to the published order then backwards to compare growth and overall expansion of sound. It is a very compelling experience, enchanting – most notably impressive that Bourganos was only a teenager at the time of recording. There are glimpses and flickers of his future music on these early tracks. The early material is upon first glance rather daunting in length but there is never an insipid moment in the flowing passages. The whole album is an amazing exhibition of young genius, parallel with reflections of the past yet coming together to create a new sound. Every track has something special, something compelling, something purely Bourganos. Part of the reason why the music is so great and full of fascination is the amazing musicians who were a part of it – Lucas Roxo, Greg Sá Bach, Marcos Pascotto, Guilherme Costa, Antonio Celso Monteira Costa, Erico Jones, Mauro Fernandes, Raphael Caleb, Gabriel Marques, Henrique Bulcão, Thomas Baignères, and Alexandre Calori.
The anthology exhibits a vast amount of material for the nine tracks, but every track is truly amazing! The opener “Every Current Leads to the Sea” is very mesmerizing with the mantra-like vocals. It is a very beautiful hypnotic song. Each piece and strand of notes is beautiful and deliberate. The driving energy is simply incredible. “The Water Nymph” is perhaps my favorite. It is similar to Hendrix’s “1983…(A Merman I Should Turn to Be)” in the sense the two songs both have incredible guitar parts and are haunting in their beauty. They are both longer songs. While it is a common mistake that longer songs drag and decrease interest, Bourganos does not stumble into that mistake. Every second of music is building, rising, or exploding into something amazing. There is no room for mistakes; there is no room for boredom. “Journey Suite”, “Cosmic River”, “The Dawn of Light”, and “Electricx Raga” are the last four tracks, but I like to think of them as one piece. These longer passages are fantastic. Each movement brings around something brilliant. They are more performances than simple songs. Bourganos’ explosive guitar solos are scattered throughout the anthology. Each is more amazing than the last. It is an incredible compilation, even more so when one takes note Bourganos was a teenager on the earlier tracks. And this is only the beginning.
In 2014 Bourganos joined the band Bombay Groovy. Based in São Paulo, Brazil, the band’s founding lineup was Bourganos, Lucas Roxo, Jimmy Pappon, and Danniel Costa. The debut album Bombay Groovy was released in 2014 and carries the passage much in the same vein as Anthology, 2010-2015. Easily, some of the Anthology tracks could have been on the debut. The early works of Bombay Groovy are, like Anthology, amazing flowing instrumentals. However, the songs are rather short, the average length being just over four minutes, but these songs are also faster and highly energizing. There is simply such an amazing groove, amazing feel to the entire album. It all flows so cohesively and wonderfully. I adore the opener “Confounded Bridge” and all its amazing melodies scattered here and there, a great opening track. “Gypsy Dancer” is strong on the amazing organ groove and possibly my favorite off the debut. “The Sphere Song” concludes the album just as strongly. From beginning to end, Bombay Groovy is an amazing debut.
Bombay Groovy’s second album Dandy do Dendê was released in 2016 as a tribute to their late bassist Danniel Costa. In the same vein as the debut, there is an amazing feel to the entire album. “Slip Disc ‘72” continues where the debut left off, and I particularly like the more funky sound. “Chakal” is very mesmerizing before breaking off into an energetic frenzy of keys and drums for an amazing ending. “Kebab and Pigalle” is a strong favorite off the album. There is so much fascination in the groove. “Scandale” continues with the energy – so many amazing melodies here – then suddenly breaks off into a mellow, flowing guitar solo. Simply surprisingly wonderful! “Dandy do Dendê”, the title track, carries the funk. There is an amazing riff scattered throughout the tune. It is a really lovely song; I adore every part as it is full of fresh fascination and wonder. The drum solo simply perfects the tune. Dandy do Dendê is a strong follow-up to the debut, building on what the band was already amazing at and making the mesmerizing amazingness grow in even stronger waves. Simply, there is never a dull moment with Bombay Groovy. There is always such a great, majestic outpour of driving energy, always one more great song.
Anthology cover artwork by: Grisha Grigory and Ale Marques
In 2019 Bombay Groovy released the compilation Odyssey, which combines material from the two previous albums and also has a live version of “Fonte de Castália,” a track from the first album. This live recording carries the energy from the studio, drawing the audience closer to this exhibition of wonder. However, what holds and keeps the listener is the contrast of mellow, mesmerizing fascination and the blazing, driving energy present. Odyssey also has the single of “Devi”/“Saturnalia”. “Devi” has a strong, excellent bass and a lovely guitar and keys melody, as well as an amazing ending. “Saturnalia” is similar to the funky sound of Dandy do Dendê. The drums are awesome; the keys solo is bursting of pure fascination. Listen to any track of Bombay Groovy and be filled with fascination, hypnotized.
Bourganos most recently became part of the electrifying London-based band Flare Voyant. Their self-titled debut EP was released in 2017 and produced by Chris Kimsey (who has produced albums for The Rolling Stones and Peter Frampton), but the band released their earlier demos in 2018. The songs on Seeds of the Flamboyant were what caught Kimsey’s attention and drew heavy interest to the band. I chose to listen to the early demos first since they sparked the interest, and one can clearly understand why Kimsey decided to produce the debut upon listening.
Seeds of the Flamboyant is a captivating and compelling tale of a young band still trying to find their sound – but what they have found is already fantastic. The opener “Light and Shade” is compelling. One can certainly hear reflections from Anthology, 2010-2015, which is not a bad thing as the experimentations have strengthened and expanded. The intro of “Light and Shade” is driving yet mellow. The guitar solo that finishes the song is a great beginning to a great EP. “Daydream”‘s guitar intro has reflections of the majestic Led Zeppelin. It is simply an addicting song. The guitar solo is most memorable despite its short length – which may only prove the brilliance. The ending is magical. “Midnight Lady” is the strong rocker that follows – very much like 70s rock n roll in sound. The keys are a nice touch. Such a great rock n roll sound, which is carried over in Flare Voyant’s live shows amazingly. The closer “I Lost My Poetry” is a poetic ballad. It is such a beautiful song and the lovely lyrics create many magical images in the listener’s head. The exploding guitar solo completes the song. “I Lost My Poetry” is such a great ending to a fantastic EP – and this was before Kimsey’s production projected Flare Voyant into a greater burst of stardust. Yet, I love every track, even if they are merely demos and early workings.
Chris Kimsey produced the debut EP Flare Voyant that was released in 2017. Flare Voyant keeps their character – their ability to write catchy songs that are very much inspired by the 70s but represent the exciting modern world. The first track “Borders” is an anti-xenophobia anthem. It is an important, relevant protest against xenophobic policies and politics. It is a fantastic opener. “So Contextual” has an explosive groove. The guitar is excellent. The lyrics are very much enjoyable about living in the moment. “Ephemeral Romance” was one of the first songs of Flare Voyant I heard. It is an instant hook with a very compelling guitar groove. The guitar solo is one of my favorites. “Ephemeral Romance” is a very strong, catchy single with a great accompanying video. The finale “Empty Soul” is almost like a bluesy-funk. The lyrics are very poetic; the guitar is everything – explosive yet can recoil into mellowness when appropriate. It is a very beautiful ending, much like “I Lost My Poetry” off Seeds of the Flamboyant. The debut EP expands on what Flare Voyant was already excellent on, yet soars with Kimsey’s production.
In 2019 Flare Voyant released the double A-side single “Gotta Gotta”/“Tunes for the Moods”. “Tunes for the Moods” was actually the first song of Flare Voyant I heard, and clearly I was hooked. It is a satire of the modern way of streaming music. A very catchy song, the guitar solo is captivating. “Gotta Gotta” is rather funky but still as great. I am guilty of listening to these two tunes in particular very, very often but they are so catchy it is difficult not to!
Flare Voyant is a young band with a strong 70s influence yet they have created their own sound. Flare Voyant is Rod Bourganos, Thomas Baignères, Grigory Grebennikov, and Antoine Paine.
Bourganos is a member of the Sitar Service, a trio who does covers of 60s and 70s rock n roll in a Hindustani Classical style. Bourganos also plays with Karma Sheen.
Throughout his career, Bourganos has traveled a great distance. The early musical experiments allowed for groundwork for the music that was to come. From the beginning where Bourganos’ sound was still being found, through the various sounds, he has grown as a guitarist into an explosive, electrifying expert. Whether it is psychedelic-prog experimentations from his adolescence, funky fascinating instrumentals, or London rock n roll, Bourganos is an excellent artist. Let Rod Bourganos take you on an amazing journey with his music. Bourganos’ music is simply an exhibition of young genius, the future of which lies in discovery and experimentation but in its purest form can be described with a poem from Jim Morrison’s The Lords and the New Creatures:
“Metamorphosis. An object is cut off from its name, habits, associations. Detached, it becomes only the thing, in and of itself. When this disintegration into pure existence is at last achieved, the object is free to become endlessly anything.”