If sound had a travel and tourism department, BALLIGOMINGO’s Garrett Schwarz and Vic Levak would be at the helm. Along with lead vocalist and co-songwriter Jody Quine, the trio has created a destination for music with their long-awaited second album UNDER AN ENDLESS SKY (Chrysalis Music Group). The new set deviates from the typical world production and delivers a fresh and compelling journey, breaking away from the pack with sultry acoustic guitar and gripping vocals.
UNDER AN ENDLESS SKY is the follow-up to their critically lauded 2002 debut album Beneath the Surface (BMG/Windham Hill), which featured Quine as a guest vocalist on “Purify.” She is now a permanent member of BALLIGOMINGO, and Schwarz says that “Jody has been a critical element in writing lyrics and vocal melodies with us. It was a no brainer that we were a group. The first album was more of my own project with Vic really helping to make it happen, and this album relies more heavily on the talents all three of us.”
The dynamic group draws upon the unique skills of each member to deliver a mesmerizing sonic experience that is as vastly different from their first album, as it is any other group in their “lifestyle” genre. BALLIGOMINGO’s intention on UNDER AN ENDLESS SKY was to create a new musical experience by layering their ambient vibe with organic instrumentation and seductive female vocals. To achieve their full musical vision, the trio recruited Rebecca Ramone--whose vocals mix the blues with soul--as a guest on a few tracks. “We found that a few of the vocal melodies on the album have a folk element to them which
Rebecca’s voice caters well to,” says Levak.
“We avoided using synths and drum loops where possible while working mainly with live instrumentation and dramatic effects to create a tranquil ambience” says Schwarz. “Also, Vic has an amazing ability to make an electric guitar sound intoxicating and ethereal and it’s really become the core sound of this album. Jody and Rebecca's vocals really pull it all together and I've done my best to arrange the parts into an intricate journey.
With the band members living in various cities across North America, the recording of UNDER AN ENDLESS SKY was created in a unique way, relying on technology while allowing the band to create the sound organically. Schwartz says, “On this album, we worked individually on pieces from our own home towns in Canada and the U.S. and sent them to each other via the web. We took our time, and the process was much more laid back. When writing together, (long distance with the use of a phone and the internet) we allowed each writer to express themselves without pressure or opinions, developing a more fluid creative environment resulting in a distinct vibe that truly relies on each member’s skill.”
And what about the considerable amount of time between the first and second albums? Schwarz explains, “I really thought the first album was it and there wouldn't be another. When we made Beneath the Surface, there was a record deal in place that put a deadline in front of us that we were all racing to meet. After the album came out, we went our separate ways and were countries apart. Then our label was nixed from BMG, leaving our project homeless for the second album. Vic was really the driver pushing us all to get back to work. Life gets busy and it’s hard to find the time to coordinate the variables you need to make an album. But we felt obligated to not let the first album define who we are or want to become and thus felt a new album was paramount.”
UNDER AN ENDLESS SKY is the novel musical masterpiece that takes ambient music in a new direction.