Album Review

Body, The & Big|Brave – “Leaving None But Small Birds” – [Thrill Jockey Records]

whngr   11/16/2022   A Library, CD

Post American Traditional

Thoughtful and pensive folk with a powerful and passionate delivery, especially by vocalist Robin Wattie of Big|Brave, with sparing electric and amplified elements that tend to build gently as the album progresses. Beautiful, tortured, and often unconventional vocals rise above somber violin and acoustic guitar, hypnotic minimalist percussion, piano, mandolin, vocal harmonies, feedback, crumbling frequencies reminiscent of life’s inevitable result, and the deep sorrow of love forever lost. 

These bands are both sort of metal adjacent acts that hold their own with the heaviest and loudest projects on the planet with parallels being drawn to Sunn O))), not unsurprisingly as Big|Brave is signed to Southern Lord, who is owned by founding members of the vomit inducing juggernaut (Wattie has also collaborated with Greg Anderson on the digital release Needle Cast) but this collaboration is considerably quieter and employs more traditional instrumentation than either of these two projects’ previous outings. And unlike both of their previous work, there is a paucity of drones. Instead of the dense waves of atrial fibrillation inducing low-end now they are layered delicately like jeweled globes of dew clinging to the gossamer thread of a spider’s web abandoned by its weaver. Big|Brave has been noted for not being immediately accessible but having a tendency to grow on the listener over time; sometimes being a bit of a challenge. This was not the case for me and was even less true with The Body, which I adored from the first listen, but for some reason their collaboration was a bit difficult for me. Not as noisy or as thick as I was expecting, indeed I struggle to hear much, if any, of The Body as I have come to know them on “Leaving None But Small Birds” but once I settled in I found it both beautiful and haunting… though not in a spooky way, more like urging me to feel again… or maybe to be whole… things that will not come easy.

Big|Brave is Robin Wattie (guitar, vocals), Matthieu Bernard Ball (guitar) both of whom are strong visual artists in their own right, and multi-instrumentalist Tasy Hudson (drums) from Montreal, Québec. The Body are Chip King (guitar) and Lee Beuford (drums) and would be from Portland, Oregon… if they could sit still long enough to be from anywhere.

Canada and Everywhere – 2021

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