Ceschi - Broken Bone Ballads (Album Review)

★★★★ by Sketch tha cataclysm

I have a very vivid memory of when I broke my left arm when I was 15. There is a lot of life encompassed in such an experience, especially at that age, that it becomes a difficult thing for a writer to shake.

I was riding a bike to a summer job program where I was a writer for a community newspaper. A car bolted toward me just as I was arriving, and, as I went to maneuver away, my back tire slid out from under me. There was this small period where the other people that I worked with came over to see if I was alright; I was mostly just angry. This. . . right up until a kid gasps, "Oh man. . . what happened to your arm?!?" I look down to see just how fragile my life could be; my wide-eyes gazed literally upon my crooked forearm, but revealed that, in just a moment I could be broken. What followed was the full spectrum of adrenaline, pain, absurdity, confusion, and euphoria (I'm guessing morphine? haha) that this life could bring.

This is immediately what came to mind the very second that I heard the title of Ceschi's new album.


Ceschi Ramos is one of the great musical talents of the Connecticut music scene. He's an amalgam of a beastly chopping emcee, folk singer, and hardcore musician that embodies the spirit of many other different types of music that I love all working in confluence. With that range has come a number of different types of projects and collaborations, including the solo works: 2004's Fake Flowers, 2006's They Hate Francisco False, and 2010's The One Man Band Broke Up. His fourth (aside from the 2014 limited release vinyl compilation Forgotten Forever) solo full length album Broken Bone Ballads, just may be his best yet.

"Everybody in LA was looking for a lucky break, but all I really wanted was to get out of that fucking place, I never wanted to be that big blimp in a parade, that just sits in deep haze waiting for the day that it deflates". This is the close of the second verse of "Choke Parade". It's imagery is spit with an assuredness and aggression in tone as it awaits the bombs and balloons bursting in the orchestral refrain: "One quick moment 'till the parade comes alive, in just one moment, all the floats will choke the sky."
This song leads into "Say Something", an acoustic guitar led piece that begins with the quote "say something meaningful please" and closes with the questions of an impending prison sentence. Some of my favorite lines in this track are at the very close: "Proverbs and cliches remind me that I should learn to appreciate what I can get, but they're forcing us to live in our own shit and I wasn't born to be a pig, Oh disappointing mouth, hold your tongue so the cops don't come and beat the words from you, sing in tune now"

He spits his ass off through the brief "Forever 33", with couplets such as "some of us rock shows to make a living, some of us rock coke to feed our children, some of us flat broke and we all know that fast food dough won't cover four kids clothes". He also hits hard with the sincerity of his verse in collab-track "Kurweil": "I'm no enlightened being, just been taught by the things I've seen, violently made mountains of mistakes, got lost in my faults and greed".

The repeated "not a teardrop" in the hook of "Beyond The End" clashed with the pools my eyes formed listening to the pictures painted in this lament. "You visited during prison bunk visions, so lucid and vivid, that it almost convinced me for minutes that you were still living" Still, I'm left feeling the celebration of a life lived and the wish to see again in the "You are forever" that continues to sing in my mind after the song ends.

I keep wanting to dig further into every song in depth here. The pictures painted and emotions spilled throughout appeases the poet in me: speaking to his mother in "This Won't Last Forever", the completely sung "Elm City Ballad", and the "who knows if i'll ever get there" of "Rowing In Circles". Even the guest appearances are strong, with one of my favorites being Shoshin's beautifully written verse on the aforementioned "Kurweil": "Such awful, haunting hymns, tethering us taut, blood loss to limbs, engendering all squalls from frothing lips, spitting venom in a hostile toxic fit".

BEATS ★★★★
Broken Bone Ballads is entirely produced by the Saskatoon-based Factor Chandalier. He's an incredibly prolific producer who previously worked on album length projects with Myka 9, Awol One, Kirby Dominant, and Moka Only, among many others. His work seemlessly weaves live instrumentation and samples in ways that work perfectly with the genre-blending of Ceschi. There's so many bright production points throughout.

Many times I have leapt back to the words "epic" or "huge" in description of what I am hearing. These moments appear in the refrain of the opener "Choke Parade" with its triumpant horns and strings blasting over the vocals and chopped drums underneath. Again they return in the sample, guitars, and piano of "This Won't Last Forever". There's the strings that boost the acoustic guitar of "One Hundred Dragonflies" but, man, by the time those drums kick in. . . huge and beautiful.

He gets a bit turnt up to accompany Ceschi's one minute fifteen second "Forever 33"; try not to bounce when you hear the deep voice booming beneath the "point A to point Z" line. Juxtaposed, you have the many instruments building "Elm City Ballad" as the words echo off into a dream or distant memory.

All of these production aspects are probably best encompassed in "Bite Through Stone". There is what appears to be guitars, xylophones, banjos, synths, etc. all dancing throughout the various sections. The drums go from from stomping kicks to a hard breakbeat sound disappearing just to return in rolling snares.


I'm excited to be alive in an era where an album like this exists. There's so many areas touched that its difficult to call any one genre home even though it all feels that way. The music carried me throughout to each great lyric, sung or spit.

I could even faun over the sequencing here as one sung bit gives way to rhymes in 32nd notes. The songs I had heard previously such as the Sage Francis assisted closer "Barely Alive" or "This Won't Last Forever" all feel like they were placed exactly where they were supposed to be all along.

It ends with the feeling of triumph through it all dancing to the feeling of having lived. It all seems just as human as the moment I stared at my own broken bones, as the adrenaline fought the oncoming pain, and I knew that I was truly living.