Brother/Ghost
Black Ice


4.0
excellent

Review

by Lewis P. STAFF
September 14th, 2009 | 48 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Recalls Spiderland and Deathconsciousness in the same breath while retaining its own singular and monstrous vision. Over in about 25 minutes.

Befitting of their gloom (and ironically enough, their location), I fell in love with Black Ice the first weekend that the sunny, heat-scorching weather Austin had been touting for weeks finally gave way to three days of typical Texas-sized bouts of downpour. The days leading up to this weekend had been particularly lovely so the surprise and enormity of Zeus’ fury kept most of us confined to our balconies, watching the grass turn to marsh. Considering the blur the last month has been, transitioning from a suburban bubble befitting of Deerhunter’s “Nothing Ever Happened” to a vibrant metropolis brimming with, you know, people and stuff to do, the welcome shun from the rest of the world gave the more humble of us a welcome breather.

To say that Austin-based Brother/Ghost’s debut was appropriate for the weather would be rather redundant by now, but it gives the album a proper context to work with; because, for all its trepidation, Black Ice is never depressing. It is the sound of struggle, yes, through longing and love and war, but the end result is nothing if not uplifting. The arc begins as the title track assures us of impending enlightenment (“we’ve been drinking / the water you’ve been poisoning / we drank ourselves half to death / but now we’re listening”), and its war chant mantra hangs heavy over the succeeding tracks, giving the frustrated snarl of guitars that lead and trail “Waal” an affecting comeuppance.

The lull that bridges these segments are disquieting, hinging mainly on a sprightly xylophone melody and the hushed vocals that become characteristic of Brother/Ghost’s appealing sense of space. This is only further exemplified in the album’s centerpiece “Touch Something and Say Dead,” with a crawling drum march that pulls forth the overlying string section and pained vocals, only to break away into acoustic passages of charming simplicity and later reach a climax worthy of their post-rock roots. The second half’s quieter and more deliberately paced rhythm helps to balance out what could have been an overwhelming call-to-arms, and the musicianship on display helps to sway any doubts that the album might not recover from such front-loaded ferocity.

It is perhaps because of this second half that Black Ice is so successful. After such a powerhouse performance, the slow upward climb in “Baby Sharks Pt. One” is deceptively dark, moving trance-like to its inevitable breakdown and opting instead to rest upon harmonic singing and jarring guitar playing. Brother/Ghost leave the heavy lifting for “Pt. Two,” which smartly plays up the most post-punk aspects of the band’s Spiderland post-rock sensibilities and crafts a memorable little nugget of post-hardcore in the process. All at the service of getting Black Ice to its well-deserved finale, the band finding its enlightenment and indulging in it.

The aforementioned Spiderland plays the largest role in shaping the atmosphere here (“spider-y” is as good a description as any), but Brother/Ghost certainly have fun with their influences, extending their reach from Slint to Sunny Day Real Estate, from Earth to Mount Eerie, even so far as to recall Have a Nice Life’s Deathconsciousness. There are moments on “Touch Something and Say Dead” that rival the whole of the Fleet Foxes debut. But never does Black Ice sound like anything but a charmingly assured and singular piece of work, one that still resonates with the spirit one usually gets from a band whose members are still so fresh-faced and young. The kind that is so easy to relate to, to slip into, especially when the world rains large and foreboding, and we take the opportunity to watch the grass turn into marsh.



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user ratings (31)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Athom
Staff Reviewer
September 14th 2009


17215 Comments


i'm sold

Digging: Inigo Kennedy - Vaudeville

Prophet178
September 14th 2009


6397 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah, this sounds awesome.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
September 14th 2009


15740 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

shit's pretty chill. Kind of peters out towards the end but the first bit is fantastic, I dig

also you might as well be restaffed so your reviews are more well-publicized. Just saying

Digging: Flying Lotus - You're Dead!

kingsoby1
Emeritus
September 14th 2009


4950 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

review describes teh album

plane
Staff Reviewer
September 14th 2009


6094 Comments


Album can be streamed / downloaded here: http://brotherghostband.bandcamp.com/album/black-ice

thebhoy
Emeritus
September 14th 2009


4461 Comments


*listens to stream*

Prophet178
September 14th 2009


6397 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Hmmm just finished listening to it. It's a little too boring for my tastes. It's like post-rock without the climaxes, in a Slint type way, but done not as good. Putting it at a 3 for now.

CompanionCube
September 14th 2009


977 Comments


downloaded a min into the stream so good

and i like this better than slint tbh

Prophet178
September 15th 2009


6397 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Wow, bold words for only listening to a minute of the album.

soundless
September 15th 2009


171 Comments


post rock without climaxes oh no!

Prophet178
September 15th 2009


6397 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It's like sex without the orgasm.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
September 15th 2009


17920 Comments


no it's like all music doesn't have to have a climax

do you like predictability

i guess you do

Prophet178
September 15th 2009


6397 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Well obviously... but like I said, they went for the Slint type approach, but it came out boring to me, unlike Spiderland, which got it right.

plane
Staff Reviewer
September 15th 2009


6094 Comments


You've managed to overstate Slint's influence, which wasn't possible like five hours ago. And what's with this "without the climaxes" talk? "Waal" and "Touch Something and Say Dead" both hit one.

Prophet178
September 15th 2009


6397 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah, those are easily the two highlights of the album for me. Maybe I need to listen to it more to get it, or maybe its just not for me, but I think this has been done better is all I'm saying.

qwe
September 15th 2009


302 Comments


this sounds really good. i'm gonna have to look into it

thebhoy
Emeritus
September 15th 2009


4461 Comments


I liked the first couple of tracks so I'm going to give this a proper listen when I get back from schoolin'

feav233
October 12th 2009


1411 Comments


"and i like this better than slint tbh"

meh, i have a hard time believing that this will be better than slint

plane
Staff Reviewer
October 12th 2009


6094 Comments


It's not

feav233
October 12th 2009


1411 Comments


yea, i just gave it a listen, its pretty good though



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