There are albums that work with you, in the sense that they might enhance your existing mood, which is a very good and sought after quality for an album to have. On the other hand, these albums have a certain resistance to change, they become comfortable. And then there are albums like “Buried” by Brother/Ghost – records which pull you out of your own mind, defiant records, able to grab you and shake your moment away from you, substituting their own time, they own vision. I’m not saying this in an effort to establish a hierarchy – it’s just something rare, shocking and well worth talking about, when it happens.
RELEASE DATE: 15 June 2015 LABEL: I.CORRUPT.RECORDS / Shelsmusic
The second offering by Texan outfit Brother/Ghost, coming four years after their debut LP titled “Black Ice” is simply as fascinating as it is frightening. The record as a whole has an intensity and darkness to it that can utterly engulf the listener, regardless of context. If you’ve ever had a moment in which you’re only just realizing what a certain word means for the first time and your eyes glaze over as you’re in line at the post office, that’s what “Buried” feels like. Or if you’ve ever stared at the mirror for a long time and you’re suddenly jarred by that feeling of being disconnected, as if the world just fell away in some instant you’ve missed, and there’s a sudden panic creeping up, winding its way between your ribs, that you’ll never be able to find your way back… that elusive, nebulous sensation is glistening in each track on this truly remarkable record.
The band offers lush sounds, expertly layered, in a slow flood of textures and rhythms that builds up relentlessly from song to song, in a spectacular display of patience and compositional proficiency. There’s a very satisfying sensation of interplay between the tracks, as though the whole record breathes together, which you don’t realize is such a rare thing nowadays until you come across an LP such as this. There’s a whole lot to say about the difficulty of keeping things simple and powerful, and yet Brother/Ghost manage this with great skill, and while the album can instantly capture the listener’s attention, it takes a good several listens to truly get a sense of the depth this music contains. Everything about “Buried” is like a balancing act in the dark – the instruments are used very creatively, but this creativity isn’t enough to carry the record on its own. That’s where the lyrics and the vocals step in, with their forlorn vibe and hypnotic storytelling, delivered via the restrained, almost conversational vocals. And when that doesn’t seem to quite delve deep enough, there’s the composition itself – slow and deliberate, weighty with texture and focus.
When it comes to production, the record is very consistent, emphasizing the rhythmic section with great care, although it must be said that after a while a certain monotony reveals itself in the palate of guitar textures employed. However, this compliments the band’s compositional method, as they rely far more on layering than on gargantuan individual effects for their swells. Patience is the name of their game, and the production mirrors that philosophy accurately.
Another high line the band is walking is the relationship with their influences. Although they humorously refer to their chosen genre as “Slint Eastwood” on their official Facebook page, Brother/Ghost maintain a very healthy dialogue with their roots, rather than engaging in hero worship. They have definitively proven that they are more than the sum of their parts on “Buried”, which is quite a feat, considering that some of their parts are Slint, Nick Cave and A Whisper In The Noise, to name a few. This is a confident record, that took years to gestate, and took strong foundations to rise from, and the result is solid.
Precisely because it is so unassumingly generous, “Buried” can easily become one of the best records of the year, easily and naturally inciting repeated plays while keeping its ability to surprise. Be it the scintillating synth textures at the end of “Harpies”, the crushing buildup of “Cripple” or the jarring vocals at the beginning of “Blackdog”, the album is studded with captivating elements which break the monotony in such a way as to make you realize there really isn’t any monotony to begin with. There’s an uncanny discretion tied in to the diversity throughout this material, which is probably the greatest achievement Brother/Ghost have managed, and it makes the whole experience of listening a tantalizing dialogue between emotional response and intellectual alertness.