Our Brother The Native
Make Amends, For We Are Merely Vessels



by natey USER (46 Reviews)
July 7th, 2008 | 3 replies

Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Our Brother the Native’s ambition does not outshine their skill, yet it displays a teaspoon of naïveté.

Fatcat children Our Brother the Native are certainly gifted. John-Michael Foss, Joshua Bertram, and Chaz Knapp were all crafting music in their early preteen years. At the age of fourteen, Knapp was playing classical guitar for a college and even teaching. Knapp met the others online from his home in California, while the other two met at high school in Flint, Michigan. Their first album Tooth and Claw was actually recorded on the internet, through the trading of sample recordings. It marked the group as companions of CocoRosie and Animal Collective in the freak-folk genre. With Make Amends, For We Are Merely Vessels, however, Our Brother the Native take off in a determinedly post-rock direction, borrowing from bands such as Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Fatcat colleagues Mum.

This departure on Make Amends… is elucidated by Bertram in an interview: “Tooth and Claw was conceived with acoustic instruments, a mic and a sampler, sitting in front of a computer, whereas Make Amends… is made up of songs that were written in my basement and practiced for a long time before being recorded… we tried to keep this album much like our live shows, in the sense that we were creating a sonic tide that came in and out, with waves of sound building up slowly, and then finally coming to a huge crescendo and then calm again.” The idea of making it as live as possible is definitely evident here. Movement is extremely measured throughout the record; in some of the sparser sections it an take whole minutes for some semblance of cohesion to develop. When the songs do develop however, the result is immense and passionate, like on the ending of “Untitled” or the climax of “As They Fell Beneath Us”.

Every track runs over six minutes in length. Inspired by noise-rock, melodies are subtle even in their most definite moments. The group exploits a number of commonly understated musical elements in their music. Dynamic contrast is fully utilized; decrescendos and swells are used to build and release tension. Electronic noise is also perceptible throughout the album. Vocals are sporadically present, ranging from soaring falsetto harmonies to emotional screaming. Percussion is played in an atmospheric way, utilizing cymbal rolls and mallet work. The songs are not structured in typical verse/chorus ways. Creativity is unchecked on Make Amends…

Each individual song is so expansive it is tough to really summarize them holistically. More apt to be analyzed is the album as a whole. Ambitious, immersive, it features a score of instruments, a dynamic range of textures, and deep emotional power. For the sake of citing more musical moments on the album, the ending of the final track is beautiful. Harmonized vocals chant over textural percussion and euphonic noise. Opener “Rejoice” builds slowly for the first three minutes before rapidly acquiring intensity at about four minutes in; it erupts into a spooky distorted section filled with dissonance and screamed vocals. The intensity of that moment is repeated throughout the album in various manners, each as potent as the next.

As much as my review compliments the album, I am going to avoid bowing to it. It has deep affecting power for those willing to absorb it in a sensitive fashion; from a detached perspective however, it is incoherent. If you are unwilling to stoop to its level, the songs become too distant to be truly accessible. It requires too much attention to have significant replay value. The group can and should do better as they mature and grow older. Make Amends…shows the group is extremely talented and inspired to deliver something fresh and powerful. It will be improved upon as they grow into more purposeful artists, more adept at perpetrating their emotions and talents. I will return to Make Amends… from time to time, partaking of the powerful emotions and blissfully ecstatic moments, yet it’s too far-flung to really amount to anything. Tooth and Claw may even receive more frequent plays on my various music-making appliances if only for its shorter track lengths and more direct melodies. Make Amends… does deserve various adjectival praises but don’t mark it down as life changing.

Recent reviews by this author
Harold Budd In The MistEsperanza Spalding Chamber Music Society
Sunset Rubdown Random Spirit LoverMr Twin Sister Vampires With Dreaming Kids
North What You WereJanelle Monae The ArchAndroid
user ratings (4)

Comments:Add a Comment 
July 8th 2008


Didn't even realize my review for this wasn't up anymore. Might re-submit it now. But yeah this is pretty good, a little too same-y at parts.

Your review is good, but it seems like a lot of time was spent on diction and the review is really choppy because of it.

July 8th 2008


Album Rating: 4.5

thanks for the comment. I re-read it and switched up a few things.

March 25th 2009


Album Rating: 4.5

Tracks like "We Are The Living" are so glorious.

You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile


Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy