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“Pepper” by Bogus Bones: Well-Crafted Aimlessness and Ennui

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Something that we’ve probably all been finding ourselves doing since the pandemic shut down most aspects of everyday life is taking time to enjoy things that once felt mundane. I’ve lost count of how many walks I’ve been on around my neighborhood, retracing the same worn steps day after day. Sometimes I go out on long drives to nowhere, circling the backroads behind my house just because it’s something else to do besides sit in my room. It’s funny that this has felt like the longest year of my life because in a lot of ways, the greatest gift 2020 gave was time. Time with my family, time away from school, time to just sit and think.

The Long Way Home the debut album from Bogus Bones, embodies this idea. Julian Cassanetti, the man behind this music-art project, had been writing music for decades, but it didn’t all come together until this past year. What came out of this process was incredibly positive: reconnecting with the positive intentions behind making a record, joining creative forces with old friends, fleshing out a unique album full with unique sounds that somehow blend harmoniously.  “Sometimes you just gotta take your time instead of rushing from one thing to the next,” Cassanetti describes. “This record is the companion to that idea…I wanted to make a record that keeps you company on the long way home.”

“Pepper,” the penultimate track on the album, is a thrilling ride. In this song, Cassanetti assembles a group of his friends to put on a display of sound that I can only describe as experimental avant-pop. David Vicini lends his vocals to spin a story that feels all too familiar to us all. “Well it used to be nice / Livin in the city…Just hangin downtown…Ridin on the subway lines / Well it used to be nice / But now I live in a house.” Gone are the days of public transit and hanging out downtown—do you even remember what normal life feels like?

While the lyrics deal with nostalgia and feelings of displacement, we need to talk about the instrumentation here. The first time I listened through this track, it took me a bit of time to orient myself and figure out just what I was listening to. But as the song unfolded, I was struck by the truly impressive blending of synths, flute, and bass clarinet that somehow feels both retro and futuristic. Cassanetti thrives equally in areas of harmony and dissonance, using a clearly robust understanding of music theory to create a song that feels directionless, but not at all lost. The songwriting here is just awesome—I don’t remember the last time I heard a song that captured this feeling of confident aimlessness as deftly “Pepper.” In his press notes, Cassanetti remarks on this as one of the goals of his album, noting that this album “tells a complete story, but does so by way of detours, diversion and sometimes driving in circles…confident in its own knowledge that it doesn’t need a map to get where it’s going.”

Julian Cassanetti wows as Bogus Bones in “Pepper” off of his debut album The Long Way Home, a reminder that going that extra mile can be worth it, if not just to drink in all the invigorating sights it may offer.

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