Ingest ≈ Digest
Koala Bar’s latest album, ‘Ingest ≈ Digest’, is a harmonic blend of sonic scapes that list and sway dutifully in the societal breeze. The sounds that Koala Bar have brought to this album are many, they are well-formed and breathe as one. The textures of guitars, bass and pads rise with strings and some horns while the percussion changes from track to track, sometimes formed of a classic drum set, in others it feels more techno and in others, it feels massive, with rumbling war drums and crashing cymbals. The album feels expansive yet personal. It touches humanity's most intimate places and speaks about the wider ones. All this expressive and metaphoric freedom is wrapped up in amazing musicality and instrumental skill. You can dive deep, becoming lost in the meanings and underlying themes, or you can sway to the rhythms and jam to the beat. Whatever your fancy, come hang out at the Koala Bar.
‘Ingest ≈ Digest’ begins with soothing tones. ‘Native Elephants’ charms with its guitar riff, scaling highs and lows with a slight echo, acoustic and electric guitars blend melodies with masterful grace and when the beat kicks in it's warm and dramatic. The vocals sit on this throne, constructed out of percussion and bass, projecting lyrics at you with a power and tone that is contemporary and divine. Its mid-tones alight on harmonies with the upper guitars and lower bass and it's invigorating. ‘Native Elephants’ is methodic and showcases how tight Koala Bar are with their instruments. No beat is missed and you feel that every note is placed with purpose. ‘non est’ continues this vibe, though it feels closer. Acoustic guitars are brighter and the song never blows up to the same scale as its predecessor. It introduces multi-part vocal harmonies that rise high above the organs in the mids, pulling the song up with them. The song builds in pace and percussive layers that pair with ascending vocal melodies. These two songs in turn set the tone for the entire album, they are complex, varied and showcase phenomenal skill. But Koala Bar are nowhere near finished. They have only just begun.
‘The Carnival’ is poppy and catchy as all heck. Its personal, tonal and it’s textures - especially in the guitar department - are downright amazing. ‘Pas de Bourrée’ is warm, jazzy almost, in its instrumental. Taking on folk vibes and pulsing percussion. The vocals contrast and come out synthy, full of conversational harmonies and neo-soul vibes. It slowly swerves away from its beginnings and becomes more futuristic as it goes, a real journey in a song. The variety the band showcase is sublime. They never lose that distinct Koala Bar sound. It's homely, welcoming. It's complicated at the core but blooms into simple beauty. Together the sounds of the songs, although distinct, paint a solid picture of a world where we could live. One that is reforming strife and where people, look inwards and remember, good things and bad. It is eye-opening.
I have hardly touched on half of the 13 songs on this album. I could write a novel set in the world that they together create. It's refreshing, cold and warm, bright and dark, full and void. The album takes on ethereal qualities often, with floating pads of synth painting aurora borealis in the blue sky, joining all pasts, presents and futures into one intimate now. Songs like ‘Danger’ break up the solace and narrow your horizon with funky upbeat vibes that blur the line between good and bad. Only for ‘Pangea Sea’ to blow the picture open again with its harmonies and delay guitars.
The first moments of ‘Ingest ≈ Digest’ took my breath away. Each song thereafter gave it back in frozen spoonfuls. As I warmed them up inside me to the tones and textures of the Koala Bar jam, I felt renewed and
enlightened. It's a folky/pop album, but it's so much more than that. Listen to ‘Ingest ≈ Digest’ and develop your own love for the vibes and passions on display at the Koala Bar.