Ones to Watch

Bionica: Poised to Take Your City

BY Carolyn Heneghan

…We met over Fairgrinds’ coffee and vanilla milkshakes with a set of invisible microphones they used to guide me to my question’s answerer throughout the interview. Amidst frenetic microphone-pointing and hearty laughs, we discussed how the group and their sound came to be, where they’re heading and what it’s like to be a young career musician in New Orleans….

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“A group whose genre-morphing sounds seemingly defy boundaries and subvert the status quo. The band possesses the skill to shatter sonic barriers and the ability to send audiences into a state of pandemonium…” – Aaron Lafont

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“What do you get when you combine jazz, funk, electronica, happiness and insanity? Pretty much Bionica. This young New Orleans band melds multiple genres per song, and gives off an intoxicating energy that makes you feel lovely just because you’re a part of it…” – Lauren Klein

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“…a virtuosic approach to electronic instruments…The result is a series of layered, digital soundscapes dominated by extended instrumental breaks featuring chirping and warbling synth solos…” – Tom Macom

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With their first EP release, local indie rock quintet Bionica has offered a glimpse into the endless possibilities the future holds for local musicians to defy stale genres and continue to produce fresh, thoughtful music, inspired by an array of backgrounds, genres, and side projects. Their overall sound itself has a bit of futurism to it-dual programming keyboardists (James Westfall and Rex Gregory) create a spacey, ethereal world often with just the simplest of two- or three-note melodies, combined with the strong presence of a solid electric bass (Nathan Lambertson) and drums/percussion (Nick Solnick), and topped off with the sweet vocal delicacies of Sasha Masakowski. This futurism is perhaps best exemplified in the wild keyboard solo in “Colossus” and the programming driven bridge in “Bionic Bloom” – an old voiceover of a woman describing the future of aviation over wheeling licks and crazed modulations. The whole album is well-mixed and mastered, often producing a psychedelic sensation of sounds swirling around your head from one ear to another – heard particularly well in the opening chords of the title track and in various solos throughout the EP – especially when using any old pair of headphones. Though only five songs long, all but the albums title track are over five minutes in length, for an end product of five fullbodied  and deeply developed tracks that show a full range of emotion, talent, and dexterity in composition and performance. Also finly tuned are their poetic lyrics and use of vocals as another element of the overall sound – instead of strings of words haplessly sung or forced over the rest of the band-including a well-executed blend of male and female vocals in “Commodore.” All five members are graduates of the Jazz Studies Department at the University of New Orleans as well as local jazz community vets, and their range of expertise and outside influence is both apparent and masterful in this debut release. – Carolyn Heneghan  April 2010

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