PICK OF THE WEEK: BIG | BRAVE defy description as their drone-rich, agitated sound blazes up ‘Ardor’

It’s never easy coming here and admitting that I’m having a difficult time describing how a band sounds. After all, this site is here to tell you what music or bands you may not have heard are like so you can decide if this is music you’d like to pursue. But it isn’t always a breeze to do that, as it isn’t today.

I first heard BIG | BRAVE a few years ago when the promo for their amazing second record “Au De La” was delivered to my inbox via their label Southern Lord. The past few years, the Lord has been in a strange phase of talent discovery, bringing us things we might not expect from them, and this band certainly was one of those. I spent hours and hours with that record (and I still do) attempting to wrap by brain around their sound (noise rock? experimental drone? doom noise drone? All of that?!) and making heads or tails of what I was hearing. But no doubt I was drawn right into their trap. Their third record “Ardor” now is on the horizon (if you caught them over the spring supporting Sunn 0))) then much of this will feel familiar), and like their other collections, it’s a ride that takes some time and repeated visits to fully digest. Their purposely slow-driving, percussion-pounding music is delivered in dream clouds, with lightning licking and striking from cloud edges, and their work on these three tracks freeze you in your spot as you rise and fall with each wave. The band—vocalist/guitarist Robin Wattie, guitarist Mathieu Ball, drummer/vocalist Louis-Alexandre Beauregard—sounds like no other I can think of, and on this record, it’s a drive deeper into the dark cavern they’ve been building since 2012.

“Sounds” opens the record, an 11:36 track that begins with noise spreading and the drums coming to life. Start-stop melodies jar, as Wattie’s singing pokes, sometimes floating, sometimes stabbing. Beauregard’s voice joins with hers as they clash in harmonies, while the drone charges up, and the song vibrates your insides ever so slowly. The drums then begin to hit harder and split your senses, and that clubbing continues and builds in intensity as the song reaches its drubbing conclusion. “Lull” runs 13:06, and it’s spread over two tracks on the vinyl version of the record. We’ll spread it over two graphs because we’re just that creative. The song buzzes, while Wattie calls out, “So I miss you, it’s all I can say, you were my best friend.” The track swims in noise, while the pace numbs you with its purposely repetitive melodies. Both Wattie and Beauregard mix together again, wailing over the din, before slow-jarring brakes delay forward progression.

Jessica Moss’ violin scrapes through the body’s center, as guitars convulse with power and cry out, piercing the serenity. The tempo penetrates, the singing pushes hard, and guitars glimmer in doom, with all elements swelling, and everything ending abruptly. Closer “Borer” is the longest track at 14:42, and its spacey sound swirl immediately captures you. The band starts to light you up, with Wattie stabbing, “Calling you out every goddamn time!” The guitars are agitated and lash out, as the strings stretch, and the intensity of everything gets to a dangerous level. Strings blaze and then sting, while Wattie continuously declares, “I am immune, and I am protected,” almost as if it’s a life mantra she wants you to commit to memory. Later, her voice shrieks, while the song slowly bleeds way, giving way to drums tapping out and the driving noises finally fading.

BIG | BRAVE are a band that must be witnessed (live or on recording, it’s your choice) to fully comprehend, and “Ardor” is a great destination point if you want to begin absorbing their infectious noise. The band generates so much power and emotion in their playing, and each inch of this album reverberates with energy and electricity. This isn’t an easy band to describe with words, which is fitting, as they only can be truly defined by their sound.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.bigbrave.ca/

To buy the album, go here: https://www.southernlord.com/store

For more on the label, go here: https://www.southernlord.com/