The role of mythology is to inspire both individual and collective growth through storytelling. Myths do that by making sense of the world. Vital (Southern Lord) by BIG | BRAVE is a mythical-sounding album that does just that. Of the colossal yet intimate Vital, the Doom-Sludge trio from Montreal featuring Robin Wattie, Mathieu Ball, and Tasy Hudson says, “This album involves what it means navigating the outside world in a racialized body and what it does to the psyche as a whole while exploring individual worth within this reality.” Vital tells a story through sound that makes sense of the modern world, prompting growth for those who listen.
Ghost Cult continues our “End of Year Guest Post Extravaganza” with a slew of posts from bands, industry, PR types, and more! We’ll be sharing lists, memories, and other shenanigans from our favorite bands, partners, music industry peers, and other folks we respect across the globe. Mathieu Ball / BIG|BRAVE shares his top 10 (and then some!) releases of 2020.
If anyone seriously doubts the efficacy and emotion of what is essentially classed as Drone, then they have never experienced Canadian outfit Big|Brave. They have toured with bands more eagerly anticipated than themselves: but those bands oft flounder at the point of displaying true emotion. It’s here where Robin Wattie and Mathieu Ball, along with drummer Loel Campbell, find a real connection while exploiting the wondrous virtues of focus and silence.Continue reading
More than an odd Melvins comparison has been levelled at Montreal trio Big|Brave and indeed, the riffs within second full-length Au De La (Southern Lord) possess the squealing, throaty exhalations of Grunge. There is, however, a whole other weirdness going on here, which you might expect from a band just coming off a tour with Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Not least the trend-bucking omission of a bassist from the ranks…
Vocalist Robin Wattie is Björk as a native witch-woman, intoning melodiously then yelping like a possessed shaman whilst managing to retain that harmony. Those riffs, meanwhile, purveyed by Wattie and fellow guitarist Mathieu Ball, carry a Drone-like pace: squalling and whining on the pregnant-with-tension ‘Do.No.Harm.Do.No.Wrong…’, yet groaning under the monstrous feedback of ‘Look at How the World Has Made a Change’. The muscle-tightening edge is maintained by Louis-Alexandre Beauregard’s tribal resonance, powerfully leading each track to a crescendo of noise in an understated yet marked fashion.
Here, however, instantaneous drops to silence raise the hackles as much as the violent explosions of agony. Staccato opener ‘On the By and By and Thereon’ seemingly comes to a premature conclusion before kicking on again into a terrifying sequence of double-hammers. The sampled undercurrent of ‘And as the Waters Go’, meanwhile, is initially pierced by a single crash of rhythm guitar, Wattie’s steadily building vocal growing from a high incantation into a demented wail, the whole continually punctuated by brief zephyrs of calm which pounce upon the listener and chill the soul. Flashes of atonal lead and a pulsing coda bring to mind Sonic Youth on zopiclone, truly bewitching stuff that shreds the nerves while attempting to kiss them better.
The early, soft Psychedelia of closer ‘(re)Collection Part II’ gives way to Wattie’s languid howls, the subsequent near-unbearable intensity of moaning leads and rhythmic drums running through an a Capella Punk centrepiece to a Freeform frenzy and a delightful, Shoegaze finale. An exercise in barely-controlled expression, this is a fascinating album – at times stunning, at others beguiling, but always compelling – and one that ensures Big|Brave will force their way into your memory.