“Open Sesame Vol.1, Her Dress” by Barista

Istanbul-based singer/songwriter Bahadir Han Ermyilmaz or Barista makes a staggeringly diverse record with his release Open Sesame Vol.1, Her Dress. Like the densely packed 7-track releases like Kanye West from 2018, Barista knows in a pitch-perfect way how to leave a listener wanting more, but without skimping on musical and narrative heft. The album is a true genre-bender, going from hard rock, grunge, pop ballad, and even disco and it all seamlessly blends from one track to another.

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This is an album for true music fans both old and new and I feel with its wonderful modern sensibilities in its production, it’s a fantastic gateway for many to try new genres maybe they’ve been shy to try. The best example is the hyper-groovy Disco track aptly titled “Disco Sun”. Bahadir’s vocals are nowhere present on the track, and while his departure might seem odd after the strong two-hand opener, the way it catches you off guard honestly took me back to listening to Gorillaz for the first time and its similar ADHD approach to different sounds that paint a beautiful picture. The production is just mint, with the vocals mixed to perfection and all the instrumentation both actually played and artificial additions are balanced perfectly. Barista gets the chance to show off a lot of surprising vocal ranges from adjusting his range from highs and lows to smooth and more edged sounds. It’s a real performance in the best sense as the production has this real cinematic feeling to it.

Going back to the number of tracks on the record, while it is only 7, the pacing on each song is flawless never overstaying its welcome. I would have loved to see maybe a *few* more 70s inspired tracks like “Disco Sun”, but that’s only because I’m a big fan of Disco and it’s a genre that seems to have gone from a joke to gaining legitimate respect over the years and its that same level of appreciation that’s present on the track. The stories present on the album have a wide range of emotions, but the thesis of the record seems pretty unified in that it’s about nostalgia and dissatisfaction. Plenty of thoughts are exposed about missed opportunities and while the songs don’t have reprises like the broadway sense, there are echoes of previous songs in other ones.

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The opener “Circular Lives” is about the lack of connection and missed opportunities to get a perfect sequel in the form of “Walk in My Shoes” which almost feels like the direct POV of one of the characters sung about in “Lives”. It’s not all dark however, closer Be Mine ties things together in a pretty neat bow, acting as a sort of “To Be Continued” note as the title of the song semi-implies. By the time you reach the end, you’re almost immediate first thought is “Wait, that’s it?”, not in an aggravated way, but in a way that leaves you practically begging for more. Barista’s talent is undeniable and if this is Vol. 1, then he’s just getting started.

Michael Rand

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