Monday, 27 April 2009

Our Brother The Native - Sacred Psalms

Here’s a veritable cacophony of tribal beats, Native American textures and screeching chants that are vibrant, experimental, and challenging - and produced by a three-piece college band that collaborate principally across the Internet. Josh Bertram (vocals, guitar, saxophone, piano, banjo, organ, synth, drums /percussion, programming/samples/noise) and Chaz Knapp (vocals, guitar, banjo) have been working this project, pushing at their boundaries and building on their successes since 2005, releasing two previous albums and a recent EP with co-founder John Michael Foss, who it seems has now split leaving Bertram and Knapp to carry on with the ad-hoc assistance of violinist Kevin McKay. This release says they’re more than up to the challenge.

Crackling with euphorically released energy, Sacred Psalms externalises pent-up inner emotions, primitive repressed stuff that comes out in the freedom of uninhibited expression. ‘Well Bred’ opens in the echoing space of the wide-open country and then shrieks in a celebratory way that expresses its unconstrained dance, ‘I am your doctor / listen to what I say’ it appears to implore. If I’ve misheard that lyric, and such misunderstanding is forgivable in the way that the vocals are subservient to the percussion patterns that is their raison-d’être, then it certainly should say that anyway because the whole album has that joyous quality that comes with the music’s competing beats. ‘Endless Winter’ with its simple piano and gently competing vocals beguiles and moves with a real heartbeat aura to it. ‘Awaken’ enters with Aboriginal vibes and drifts into Oriental simplicity.

It’s probably a little unfair to labour the Native American tones to OBTN’s sound, they’re certainly embracing World Music as a whole, but (and not withstanding already being tuned in to that element of their work, having just enjoyed the latest issue of Jason Aaron & R M Guera's excellent Scalped, but that’s a worthy side digression) their sheer evocation of clear night air, huge campfires and open plains adds an ethereal, almost mystical element. Discordant, the drums compete for the groove against chiming metal, winding violin, piano and conflicting saxophone sounds.

I think we’re looking now for something that encapsulates something different from the crass commercialism of an increasingly irrelevant mainstream that says nothing to us that could help free us out of our modern social malaise. Our Brother The Native, on the other hand, are producing sounds that liberate us from our mundane, repressed existence and tell us that throwing off these contemporary problems and embracing the more primal part of our nature has great value. This is ambitious and vivid stuff built on widescreen visions and distant horizons.

Our Brother The Native Myspace Page
Our Brother The Native Website
Fat Cat Records

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