Filmmaker David Fincher once said in most art, the audience knows you can do anything, so it really becomes about what DON’T you do. Istanbul-based artist Barista knows this sentiment very well and yet somehow still manages to flex such a wide range of abilities with his latest release Open Sesame, Vol 1. His last release was his album 57 back in 2016 and where that one was an hour-long packed to the brim affair, Barista has wisely dialed back with Open Sesame while keeping all the things that have worked in his previous albums.

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Running at nearly less than a half-hour, this album still feels packed and expansive and constantly outdoing itself. It’s one of those records that only gets better as it goes on, and even then it started off on a very strong note. Barista keeps a lot of the soft rock mixed with gruff vocals and even trades that for his softer cadence with more edgy instrumentals. He’s a master of inverse since you’d expect based on the first two tracks that you’d have a pretty straight forward rock record about life, love, sadness, and memory but then suddenly you’re slammed with a disco song on the third track and now you have no idea what to expect now. I get the feeling Barista almost wanted to challenge his critics and even himself by tightening his ship and venturing out into genres that he’s always loved and that approach is kind of flawless?

In my humble opinion, there’s not a single dud on this record and I found myself thoroughly engrossed with every song. It’s like watching a movie you don’t want to end with all the emotions being hit whether it the love in “Be Mine”, the anger in “Watching the End Begin”, the lovelorn nostalgia in “In a Dream” and “Her Dress” and even “Disco Sun” feels like the kind of reprieve you could expect in maybe a Tarantino movie. It should be said that so many of these songs if not this entire album would be fantastic for commercial and film soundtracks. The level of professional quality for a technically independent release is just stunning and that’s thanks to the refined talent that Barista has carefully assembled getting to work with master from Supertramp, Kenny Loggins, Velvet Revolver, and more. Barista touts that there’s nothing mainstream about the album and I’d say yes and no.

No in that to deny that the record is influenced by his love of classic masters of multi-layered rock would be a lie, but yes in that I can’t remember the last time I’ve heard an album that was so certain of itself and where you could hear everyone involved just hyping each other up for the love of the music.

There’s a purity to the whole thing like you can tell everyone doesn’t want to make a “product”. It’s not corporate, but it is professional. Barista does a lot on this record and yet knows how to keep them wanting more with what he doesn’t do. It’s phenomenal.

Sebastian Cole