After a six year hiatus, the main brain behind the band Cober, Sheila Bommakanti returns with her latest EP titled Beautiful Dissent, a gorgeous practice and meditation with the rather underrated pedal steel guitar. This is long distance away from the first Cober album, Crashpilot which came out back in 2000, and the album that I’m more familiar with, The Breaker which came out shortly after in 2002. These two albums featured a full band and had a grungy, goth rock feel that I found my self truly enjoying. This EP on the other hand, takes a more intimate and personal approach, where each melody takes you away on a dream-like musical journey.
Starting out, the opening title track, is a quaint little folk number featuring Sheila’s rather distinctive and recognizable vocals, an acoustic melody, and of course, the dreamy steel pedal guitar. Much of the release only features that instrument, where Sheila is able to conjure dusty landscapes and dreamy vibes to drift the listener away into her own little corner of the world. The whole EP just feels very intimate. There are moments, especially on the tracks like Is Becoming Clear and There is No Time, that make you feel so alone and isolated but in a way that’s almost comforting. Like a pause in life’s hectic pace which seemed to be the goal in mind during the creation of this EP. Her creativity truly shines through with any instrument she picks up.
There is one other track that does features vocals, that being the fourth track Mi Alma, another short but poignant folk track that just makes me want to hear more of her singing. But as she puts it, there are certain feelings and emotions that words simply can’t capture, and can only truly be expressed through sound. Beautiful Dissent accomplishes that very well, as for me personally, as I had this on repeat throughout the month, it brought a sort of nostalgic feeling I haven’t felt in a long time. With the running time of the whole release just being over twenty-three and a half minutes, you can get truly lost in the sounds and feel like hours have passed by.
After doing a little digging and discovering the previous releases, you can definitely pick up on the DNA of Beautiful Dissent through her other releases. The 2006 release Eulogy sort of has the same quiet and intimate feeling, but expressed through her performance on a double neck SG and her heartfelt lyrics that are sung with such heavy emotions. The following album The Western Cutter, which was released back in 2009, is just another step on that path that led up to now. Personally, I really think all three of those releases make a great musical journey to explore and experience for your self, as the evolution of the sound is at times breath taking. I’ve found my self lost in Sheila’s twinkling guitar melodies and spacious sounds that I always find my self drawn back into.
I’d highly recommend Beautiful Dissent for any fan of ambient and atmospheric music that creates a unique mental image not found in many other releases of the same kind. The approach feels much more organic thanks to the more hands on approach of using a guitar as opposed to generating it through synthesizers. I’d also suggest giving the rest of the Cober back catalog a listen if given the chance, a mix of alternative goth rock and ambient music is something I think anyone could fall in love with.