Big|Brave – A Gaze Among Them | Album review

Review by: Graeme J Baty

There is something special about Big|Brave that I can’t quite put my finger on. I’ve indulged in their new album A Gaze Among Them for a few weeks now, regularly dipping back into it. It holds my attention far more than other records in this genre. Slow doom-laden songs, whilst sounding utterly awesome on first play they tend to lose my attention with the long meandering slow-paced songs that have little traction. This is definitely not the case with Big|Brave.

Opening with the strong Muted Shifting of Space, an epic piece of work at 8 minutes and 41 seconds. The diversity of the seemingly simple sound captivates and engages.

The vocal style is something quite refreshing and maybe a little bit jarring at first listen. I think the typical incomprehensible guttural wails of this genre of music is perhaps a little over saturated these days. This is where Robin Wattie separates Big|Brave from the pack and excels. Her voice sitting perfectly juxtaposed to the music with elements of Bjork in there, traditional Celtic folk and I was also reminded of the female-fronted Brutus who are also making interesting fresh use of well-tread sounds. The combination of music and vocal style creates a unique soundscape.

Holding Pattern demonstrates Big | Brave’s masterful ability to craft songs with dramatic dynamics. Building from a slow start and gripping you tight by the throat until it finally dissipates. Proving a strong highlight of the album.

The midsection of the record finds the pace slowing with Body Individual leading into the first sub-five-minute song This Deafening Verity. This builds tension and anticipation which Sibling brings with its deep whale song guitar tones and throbbing bass.

While quite a short record at only five songs in 39 minutes. It’s fully evolved, well paced and each play brings the depth of the songwriting to light. It’s a gem of a slow burner. The more I listen to the record the more I adore it. Out on Southern Lord Records on 10th May 2019.

I think this music will be utterly devastating in a live setting and you’d be wise to check them out on the upcoming UK/Europe tour which includes a stop in Newcastle!

BIG|BRAVE Live dates:

16/05 DE Nurnberg Musikverein

17/05 DE Berlin Urban Spree

18/05 PL Poznan LAS

19/05 CZ Prague TBA

21/05 NL Haarlem Patronaat

22/05 BE Antwerp Kavka

23/05 FR Lille La Bulle Café

24/05 UK Bristol Rough Trade

25/05 UK London Raw Power

27/05 UK Newcastle The Cluny

29/05 FR Paris Instants Chavirés

30/05 FR Brussels Magasin 4

01/06 CH Winterthur Gaswerk

03/06 DE Wurzburg Cairo

04/06 DE Hamburg Schute




Caspar Brötzmann Massaker – The Tribe and Black Axis (2019 re-issues)

Review by: Graeme J Baty

I make an effort to check out everything that comes in, I love hearing new music, even if it’s stuff that I probably won’t like. On some occasions, something comes in and I’m left wondering why the hell have I not heard this before? Those moments are golden! The first two albums by Caspar Brötzmann Massaker arrived and that golden moment happened. This immediately stood out and sounded fantastic to my ears. A few days later I’ve had the albums on repeat for some time.

Southern Lord Recordings are adding to their hugely impressive catalogue with reissues of the first album; The Tribe 1987 and second album Black Axis 1989. Southern Lord seem incapable of releasing a duff record. So I decided to give this a shot. Certainly ahead of their time in the 80s, perhaps the time is finally right for CBM to find a wider audience.

Title track The Tribe brings with it Birthday Party/Grinderman type vibes and some admirably outrageous riffs. Grinderman style noise meets a more restrained and focused Sonic Youth SYR noise. There’s real live performance sound to the mix, played at the appropriate volume it sounds like you’re in the room with the band.

The guitar sound sits quite high up in the mix, eclipsing the vocals. Instrumental but never minimal, the guitar takes the lead role. It shouldn’t work but it does and it does really well on Blechton. Caspar’s vocals channel sounds not to dissimilar to John Cale in tone, delivering simple vocal lines perfectly executed to accompany the music, yet not overshadow it.

Primal chants of Massaker juxtapose the seemingly untamed guitar wail. Clocking in at over 9 minutes, it takes a primitive Krautrock like rhythm and pummels you with it for the entire duration. Unlike the standard Krautrock, it doesn’t subdue or bore you with endless repetition, I find myself on the edge of my seat for the entire song enthralled in the noise. Quite an exciting journey.

Black Axis sees the band move into more avant-garde direction. Songs elongate into Swans like compositions clocking in at up to 16 minutes. Hunter sounds like the sonic equivalent of an anxiety attack with its finger tapping drilling into your skull.

The albums are enthralling and sometimes challenging. The Tribe acts as the perfect soft landing introduction to the music of Caspar. The avant-garde approach ramping up for the follow-up album Black Axis which is a trend that continues into following work. Two remarkable albums from a band that deserve much greater recognition than they have experienced.

The reissues are out now on Southern Lord Recordings.