Feeling the nastiness and downtrodden nature of society isn’t necessarily a means to embracing constant negativity. Reality is what it is, and thinking it’s always sunshine and equity for all is foolish, perhaps purposely so, and it’s a false existence. Times are dark, our relationships with one another as people are corroding, and power structures are more than happy to let the bloodshed happen in front of them.
There’s never been a time when Canadian doom/noise/drone trio Big|Brave hasn’t splashed every ounce of their being and experiences into their music. Their new offering “nature morte” is a French term for “dead nature,” itself an art form showing still-life paintings. The cover art is dark and foreboding, and digging into these six pieces reveal the morbid underpinnings so many of us face from dashed hope to the rage of existence to the continual effort to control women, something a particular ilk of politicians in this country exercise to disgusting levels. The band—guitarist/vocalist Robin Wattie (her voice is a powerhouse that demands your attention), guitarist Mathieu Ball, and drummer Tasy Hudson—continues to push the boundaries of sound and what it means to emote musically about the things in life beyond our control because we’re not allowed to control it. It’s beauty wrapped in hell.
“carvers, farriers and knaves” jars you awake with Wattie immediately greeting you with, “It claims you, a disease for keeps piece by piece, it mars your mirth, it slaughters all you thought you’d know,” immediately sobering with its effect. The playing boils and scalds, pulling forward and back, sounds pulsating. Later, the vocals jab, Wattie’s shrieks blurring your vision as disorienting tones blacken skies. “the one who bornes a weary load” runs 9:16 and brings jarring guitars, luring strikes, and thorny impulses that run along the skin. Vocals swim in fuzz, deliberate jabs loosen ribs, and the temperature boils, shrieks raining down. The playing gets heavier and louder, pushing through boundaries, lava spilling over and hardening the ground. “my hope renders me a fool” slowly emerges as sounds hum, and a moody fogginess takes over and weighs down. It feels like the center of a serene dream, cold guitars flow, a solemn and lonesome tone is struck, trickling and easing away.
“the fable of subjugation” is the longest track at 9:21, Wattie’s voice quivering as the guitars trace patterns, sounds rattling like a loose screw in a dryer. Sounds immerse as the drums strike, the playing crashes, and the bruising reaches the surface. “Because your beauty is so hard to hold your force… so lawless and rash allow me to prevail over all your lure,” Wattie stabs, the anger dripping from her jaw. The tension builds and feels uncomfortable, the machine feels like it’s coming apart, and the howl of, “I am a man, and I need you too,” feels dark and threatening, the sounds slowly dissolving. “a parable of the trusting” goes 9:19, shadows spreading and pulsating, a doomy pall hanging over everything. The playing pummels as shrieks tear through, driving and crushing, sounds bouncing off walls. A filthy sting lingers, the percussion drives, and everything erupts, scorching and tearing flesh, feedback burning and leaving blackness behind. Closer “the ten of swords” shakes in guitar glaze, Wattie’s delicate singing washing over, guitars drizzling. It feels like a daydream stretching its arms around you, pulling into emotional caverns, slowly closing off the final rays of light.
It’s easy to fall to the hypnosis of these songs but also feel the ocean of dread roaring underneath, something Big|Brave always have done expertly, but never this bluntly and bloodily. “nature morte” feels like a dread you know is coming, you fear, and that you live inside of, never being able to shake yourself loose from the power. This is sobering, these songs tells of truths we try to avoid and never address, and the aftermath is a psyche forever changed, putting up a guard you never let down.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/bigbravemusic/
To buy the album, go here: https://thrilljockey.com/products/nature-morte
For more on the label, go here: https://thrilljockey.com/index