Braids: we are no longer who we were
Braids' Changing Ways
On Flourish//Perish, Braids remains a chameleonic work in progress
After a great deal of change and growth over the years, Braids seem to continually morph and stretch themselves along the edge of Canada’s independent music scene. Already a work in progress and a bit of a nomadic group of chameleons, Braids new record may seem to have taken some new twists and into a realm of difference.We love the idea of stripping things down and rebuilding them...
In mid-August I had the chance to speak with drummer Austin Tufts by phone shortly before the official release date of their newest effort, and sophomore full length Flourish//Perish. This work seems both fuller and deeper than past works by the band, which, now a 3 piece, are more polished and focused into experimental and synth-based strands. Guitars have almost vanished from their creative landscape and the listener will likely agree by the sounds of things.
I personally find the record quite reminiscent of the more avant-garde tinges of major-label artists Bjork, and Portishead, and agree as Tufts also cites acts like Aphex Twin, Pantha Du Prince and the more experimental sides of Radiohead’s Kid A and King of Limbs. “On this new record we’ve definitely moved into a place of being influenced by some of the premier electronic musicians in the world. We love how some of the more well known ones will take a song and strip it down to its essential parts but only keep and work with the most potent elements that are left, but we also love we love some of the more lesser known ones as well.”
Earlier this year the band saw two new releases in addition to the departure of early member, former guitarist/keyboardist Katie Lee. A four song EP In Kind / Amends which is a sampling taste of the new full length. The two title tracks from the EP can be found as later additions to Flourish//Perish but are definitely worthy assets and certainly enjoyable as deep brooding listens. They’ve certainly explored their darker sub elements with bass tones on this new record in its entirety, but these are two of the tracks I found particularly captivating if the listener is looking to dive into a bit of melancholy.We are no longer who we were, our influences, our members, the instrumentation and who we are as individuals has changed so much with each passing year.
“We love the idea of stripping things down and rebuilding them, so we definitely messed around a lot with that idea when we were involved in the creative process”. “The new music is difficult to pinpoint with adjectives and stuff, but it kind of blends severe digitalism with very natural sounding sonics. We still use a lot of natural sounding lyrical content and also natural acoustic sounding drums despite the fact that I play a lot of electronic drums on this record, but there’s surely a lot of electronic exploration.”
Joining Tufts on the new record are remaining members Raphaelle Standell-Preston on vocals, synths & keys with minimal guitar bits; as well as Taylor Smith doing computer programming manipulation, sound design and soundscape work. Standell-Preston’s lyrics have taken Braids into some newer landscapes as she seemingly explores the darker sides of her own introversion and admitting her own battles with depression since early childhood. Tufts admits: Oh absolutely, she would fully admit that if she was right here and now.”
It seems fair to say that all members are likely reflecting on their changing shape as members come and go and the music progresses along the measure of time. “It depends on what era of Braids we are discussing. We are no longer who we were, our influences, our members, the instrumentation and who we are as individuals has changed so much with each passing year.”
Braids were originally conceived and began life as a five piece known as The Neighbourhood Council after meeting in junior high. Remaining high school chums, they felt they should combine musical interests and talents and start a band in Calgary, Alberta. After finding common ground they would go on to self-release a live self-titled four song EP through CJSW campus/community radio in that city to rave reviews; and would soon after release a five song EP known as Set Pieces. Early guitarist Vince Mann would depart from the band after these sessions to move to Montreal to study philosophy at McGill University. Smith, Tufts and Lee would all attend their briefly as well but later returned to a love of music.
The unit would continue on as a four piece in Calgary for about a year or so, writing songs and playing shows around the country. They would then relocate to the aforementioned Quebec metropolis in 2009 and become Braids. In 2011 these remaining members would go on to release a seven track full length Native Speaker under the new moniker after signing to the Flemish Eye label.
Personally, I was always captivated by the seven minute long cut “Same Mum”, oftentimes playing it repetitively to delight in the high strings and plucks which seems almost like a squeaky accordion or a rusty squeeze box finding its way through dark bass orchestral sounds and Standell-Preston’s haunting high pitched chants.
Somewhere between this record and the recording sessions for Flourish//Perish, there would be a falling out between Lee and the other members, chiefly Standell-Preston and Tufts. “She was having a hard time going where we wanted to go on this record, we were no longer where we were a few years ago. Katie seemed reluctant to go there, or want to meet us there.”
After tour stops in Europe, Braids intend on playing more dates in their homeland. When asked about Canadian cities, Tufts stated “We love playing at home in Montreal; people are just more appreciative of the arts community as a whole and as a collective there. I know we are also playing Vancouver in October and I can’t wait as I’m looking forward to going to that record store, Red..,something.” “Cat” I said to him, “Ya, that’s right Red Cat, I love that place!” I’m sure they love you too Austin.
The new disc Flourish//Perish can be purchased at a local independent record dealer near you.www.braidsmusic.com
Listen to and watch the Braids video channel at YouTube.
This fall, Briads is touring Canada, the US and starting in mid-November, Europe: http://braidsmusic.com/tourdates comments powered by Disqus