Wednesday, April 24, 2024

This Bliss’ Jess Baggia and Nick Zampiello. (Photo: This Bliss)

After declaring a genre (i.e., rock, jazz, electroclash, deathcore, etc.) a declaration of influences is the standard shortcut to get a sense of what kind of music you’ll hear from a band – for instance, when This Bliss releases an album Friday and performs Saturday at The Lizard Lounge with Schooltree and The Macrotones.

The declared genre of This Bliss, though not stated without some tongue in cheek: true grime.

A top influence: endless episodes of “Forensic Files” streaming on Netflix. The name of the album dropping Friday: “Forensic Styles.” 

‘There’s so many crime shows. There’s entire shows that are only about wives killing husbands,” said Nick Zampiello, who drums for This Bliss alongside synth player Jess Baggia and guitarist Tom Maroon. (All contribute some vocals, led by Baggia.) “We’ve seen all the ‘Forensic Files’ over and over. I never sleep, so I just tend to let them roll.”

It’s why the album includes a song called “Hurt Me” that Baggia calls “a murder ballad.” The track “is basically ripped from an episode of ‘Forensic Files,’” she said. “The guy comes in and murders the girl in her bedroom.”

If there’s anything that’s shaped the eight tracks on the album as much as nightly shared bloodlettings, it’s the thousands of tracks and samples Zampiello has stashed away – some on CD, some even on cassette – dating as far back as his high school years; he offered them to Baggia when she approached him in 2014 for production that would move away from the singer-songwriter Americana she’d been doing and into a zone where she felt a little more P.J. Harvey. Four years later, they have three albums’ worth of material ready to go grouped by sound and theme; “Forensic Styles,” with its noirish tales of passion boiling over, just happens to be the first to go.

“We have a whole ’90s-era girl group we could do if we had the right singers, like En Vogue and Mariah Carey meets Prince with a little Janet Jackson – that would be super cool,” Baggia said.

By sharing a bill with Schooltree, which became heroes to a subculture of prog rock enthusiasts with last year’s “Heterotopia” concept album, the sinuous rock of This Bliss could be read for a kind of 1970s or early 1980s trip, but Baggia and Zampiello said that would be mistaking a cinematic quality for retro – unintentional but understandable, considering those samples of Zampiello’s going back up to 20 years. “I had a sampler, like every hip-hop kid had. You get some body hits from a kung fu movie and you’d have a Wu-Tang Clan song. They’re really fun to make, and I have folders full of that stuff. I used to love those movies too,” he said. “It does feel like the ’70s, because a lot of the things [we’re] sampling are from the ’70s.”

The album is a trip, and the layering of those original samples under Baggia’s added melody and words (themselves incorporating aboriginal folktales as well as the true crime plots) and a final sheen of Zampiello’s production rewards close listening, with a guitar solo perfect for the end credits of a “Lethal Weapon” flick followed by a the kind of sophisticated frill that makes a Portishead song soar.

Even better, the This Bliss live show is a visual treat, an immersive blast of light and projections accompanying the music, and the band treats their appearance as a chance to entertain – not as simply a live version of tracks on an album. “Anybody can go up and play. But are you really giving them something to pay attention to?” Baggia said. “Lights are cool, but anybody can put lights on stage. Lights for us are not a gimmick, they’re meant to enhance the overall experience.”

“We’re very much about trying to pull off something cinematic. Like there’s a whole experience,” she said. “You don’t just get a bunch of people on stage – there’s a story around it.”

This Bliss’ “Forensic Styles” is available in partnership with Mint 400 Records through the band’s website or on Apple Music; the band plays at 10 p.m. Saturday at The Lizard Lounge, 1667 Massachusetts Ave., between Harvard and Porter squares, with Schooltree opening at 9 and The Macrotones following at 11 p.m. Doors are at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door.