The Body and BIG | BRAVE – Leaving None But Small Birds
This is basic old-style music coming from an intense perspective. It works sometimes, not always. Have patience. It’s still, for the curious, interesting to listen to.
“Blackest Crow,” treks liberally into Dead Can Dance territory. Their vocalist Lisa Gerrard sang in a similar World music style. This has a tinge of an Indian-Arabian-type motif. Folk melody drifts about. A sitar-type violin, a droning riff & a shruti box with other percussive instruments.
The credits don’t detail individual players, but the captivating female vocalist is intriguing. The rather foreign sounds support the World-folk elaborate progression.
A little more mainstream: “Oh Sinner,” solidly based in a foreign clipped arrangement that maintains the Dead Can Dance meticulous musical shimmer. Maybe not as dark as DCD but it’s mysteriously gripping well-played music that never sounds strange.
The Body and BIG | BRAVE is actually two band concepts. On Leaving None But Small Birds (Thrill Jockey Records-Drops Sept 24), The Body (from Portland) are prolific producers/collaborators who are ambitious. BIG | BRAVE (from Montreal) shapes the sound with thick waves of guitar, feedback, minimalist & hypnotic dashes fused with emotional melodies. Layers of percussion support the tunes; guitars unspool starkly. It’s pioneering but if stripped down it’s been done before. Like DCD, bands that relied more on Medieval folk structures & ancient/primitive traditions like Amazing Blondel, the more industrial/alt-country music of latter-day Swans (Michael Gira & Jarboe), & Rain Tree Crow.
It’s diversified, daring & (“Hard Times”) a bit jarring. The lyrics are always good. I give credit – they hold it together. Not aimless drek. The female vocals go acapella at the end of “Babes in the Woods,” & recalls Iris DeMent & the Fairfield Four. I liked some, they’re challenging with a formidable balance. But true folk aficionados & purists — may not agree. Too many psychedelic underpinnings seldom translate to folk.
The 7-cut was produced by Seth Manchester (who also plays). The initial challenge the PR stated was for the band to evoke the feeling of The Band. I don’t hear it. Nothing traditional, rural, or rootsy. Relying heavily on electronics as some songs do will deter.
The band: Lee Buford (percussion), Chip King (guitar), Robin Wattie (guitar), Tasy Hudson (drums), Mathieu Ball (guitar), & Morgan Eve Swain.
Approach with an open mind. There are enough compelling cuts to constitute this respective, brave attempt to elevate a heavy musical migration to a more grounded genre.
Years ago, in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” Jack Nicholson bet he could lift a big sink & throw it through a window. Inmates laughed. He gripped it, strained, failed. They said ‘he couldn’t do it.’ He turned & said, “yeah, but at least I tried.”
My point? The Body and BIG | BRAVE…tried. You should.
The 38-minute CD @ Bandcamp & http://www.thrilljockey.com/artists/the-body-and-big-brave