Au De La
18th September 2015
Those of you who read these ramblings on a regular basis will be aware of my tendency to like bands, artists etc, that sound unique, break the mould, are iconclasts, and deliver a new aural experience, BIG|BRAVE meet those criteria with consummate ease.
Big Brave is a Montreal three-piece who played their first show in July of 2012. Recorded with Efrim Menuck (Godspeed You! Black Emperor/Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra) at Hotel2Tango, their new album “Au De La” adds to a growing discography comprising their debut EP An Understanding Between People (2013) and the debut LP Feral Verdure, which they recorded at Paradise Studios with Jon Boles, and self-released in September 2014.
The band remain frustratingly non-committal about their line-up, identities and background. What is known is that there are two guitars and drums creating an altogether refreshing sound. Special guest Jessica Moss (of the Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra) also brings her violin to a few of the album’s five tracks. At least we know what they look like.
Opener “On The By And By And Thereon” sets the scene with brutal shards of guitar and metronomic drums, staccato vocals emerge from this dense battery of sound to create an almost tribal sound. The dark ambience of “Look At How The World Has Made A Change” provides a strong contrast to the first track. Sounds teeter on the edge of distortion, a plaintive vocal echoes middle-eastern musical forms, percussion tumbles and rolls around the sound-scape. The easy option of labelling this music as post-rock does not work here, this is beyond conventional accepted genre pigeon-holing. A howl of feedback takes the track into a slow march of epic proportions, Fractured and blistered guitars match the beat as it builds majestically, a cathartic rage against the forces of darkness, into a memorable climax. Challenging and breathtaking, cinematic in scope, quite remarkable.
The intriguingly titled “do no harm do no wrong Do No Harm Do No Wrong DO NO HARM DO NO WRONG…” hides a pretty pop song under an unrelenting wall of dense guitars and insistent percussion. Once again the needle heads towards to red as the trio brutalise the listeners ears with an emotionally charged tirade. Guitar abuse creates a tension against the repetitive drum beat as you are hit with an unforgiving wall of sound. Matters initially calm for the opening waves of the apparently more relaxed “And As The Waters Flow” but quickly brutal stabs of guitar noise break the mood and another aching vocal arises, developing into a massive howl of rage. This is pretty intense stuff folks and not for the faint-hearted. What they are doing musically is pretty basic but they are delivering it in such an unfettered and emotionally rich way as to make it something special indeed.
The longest track on the album “(re)Collection Part II” continues the thematic use of walls of guitars on the edge of feedback with slow and all enveloping drum beats. The vocal is buried deep in the sound scape, matters edge towards a Sunn 0))) aesthetic as dense guitars slowly move around in a frenzied clash of sound, which then transmutes inexorably into Dylan Carlson/Earth territory for the closing section.
Altogether an excellent second album and potentially one of the most exciting releases of the year. Highly recommended.