by Maggie Stapleton
Break of Reality is a quartet composed of 3 cellists and a percussionist who perform music ranging from Tool to Radiohead to Bach to their own original compositions inspired by rock, classical, folk, and pop music.
There are a lot of attempts at this genre cross-pollinization these days, but BoR REALLY does it well. This music is genuine and it doesn’t try too hard. Percussionist Ivan Trevino says, “Rock is as much in our blood as classical music. Our music is organic; we’re not doing it as a gimmick to play rock music on the cello. We want our instruments to be respected both in the classical and rock worlds.” Success, I say!
“Ten,” their latest release (buy it here!), is the band’s proudest and most mature record to date. All of the songs are original compositions by cellist Patrick Laird and/or Ivan Trevino and their sound has transitioned from “heavy metal cello band” to a more mellow, classically influenced sound, which comes across very authentically. They also experimented with different microphones and recording techniques and invested in a lot of their own equipment with this album. The result is well-balanced, nuanced, yet totally grooves.
I had the pleasure of talking to Ivan and Patrick about a few of the tracks and learned the following tidbits:
“Star” was written for Patrick Laird’s wife, Marnie, who makes a guest piano appearance on the track.
“Helix” is one of their favorite tunes to perform, with a winding cello riff that travels through all different types of time signatures, leaving one wondering if it’s in 7 or 4. Can you figure it out?
“Six” is the only track on the album that Ivan Trevino wrote all on his own. It was a originally a mallet sextet composed for the Eastman Percussion ensemble. This arrangement is for three cellos, piano, 2 percussionists and features marimba, piano, glockenspiel, and drumset. It has a cinematic, mellow, indie rock flavor, “kind of like Bon Iver meets Steve Reich,” as Ivan puts it.
BoR independently releases all of their records. Trevino recognizes that as a cello band with no singer, their sound doesn’t appeal to a pop music demographic. Rather, they use their niche genre to be 100% in charge of the art. They can take complete control of record sales, keep all of the income from record sales, and have all of the say in the sound and recording process.
Oh, and the sweet cover artwork? It was done by Lauren Yandell, one of Ivan’s high school marching bandmates!
Keep an eye on BoR’s tour schedule and check them out live, if you get a chance. Percussionist Ivan Trevino says Break of Reality’s shows have the energy of rock concerts; the music is memorized which helps communication and interaction with the audience and there are elements of improv. The cellists have more articulate, aggressive, vertical types of bow strokes to get the “rock sound,” while playing with a drummer. However, they always try to bring the unexpected and keep their classical roots at heart and keep the audience guessing what’s going to come next – rock or Bach.
Cheers to you, Break of Reality, for a fantastic new album! We can’t wait to hear what’s next to come.