Review Summary: have faith in me, for i'll not ever err
“It claims you
’s opening statement is quintessentially Big|Brave: explicitly all-encompassing, yet abstract in scope. Yet, rather than sticking to this familiar realm of abating incarnations of matter
and muted shiftings of space
, the band’s new album takes a deep breath and develops into an explicitly personal work, directing its destruction at and around the tangible.
It’s a change that isn’t instantly noticeable: at face value, nature morte
is every bit as sludgy and overwhelming as the band’s previous output - its tones distorted to the point of devastation; Robin Wattie’s vocals demanding cries isolated within the sonic rubble. Yet, the aftermath of Big|Brave’s strikingly subtle collaboration with The Body on 2021’s Leaving None But Small Birds
can be felt in every crevice of the record. More than ever, songs are propelled by detail and, in their own twisted ways, intimacy. One such spark of proximity presents itself within these first few seconds of nature morte
: this opening statement indicating that “it claims you
” instantly reveals this “it” to encompass “a disease for keeps
”. While Big|Brave’s soundscapes are dense enough to affect by themselves, the relative vulnerability of these sparse lyrics add a degree of delightful discomfort to the record. A similarly impactful revelation emerges some eight minutes into ‘the one who bornes a weary load’ when a buildup of tension and unidentified annihilation accumulates in the desperate shriek that “it happened to be me
”. While its full force hinges on the listener’s patience, the sheer corrosive anxiety of the implosion can be felt regardless of context.
Such moments of texture-shattering intensity are enveloped in songs that ebb and flow with gratifying irregularity. In persistently defying expectations, Big|Brave frequently bypasses traditional form entirely and constructs its own unique sphere of sonic operations. Before ‘the one who bornes a weary load’ capitalises on its slow, overwhelming patterns by means of total disintegration, the song presents an energetic, distorted riff. This riff remains unaltered and unaccompanied for over a minute: well past the point of edge-of-your-seatisms, forced into a space where the subsequent transformation to a much less energetic, entirely crushing number somehow makes perfect sense. With each passing moment, nature morte
constructs its very own logics: a set of rules that are opaque and inherently detached from whatever may exist outside of the record.
The nine-minute epic ‘the fable of subjugation’ feels like an ultimate culmination of Big|Brave: it’s the type of deeply twisted love song that can only be part of this record. By incorporating the extremes of the band’s sound - from haunting drone to explosive post metal - each section of the seemingly sweet story is painted uniquely and ambiguously through the band’s disparate codes. Passionate declarations of affection are shrouded by all-encompassing crashes of sound, rendering the words ”your beauty - it’s so hard to behold
” too literal for superficial comfort. The means by which the track makes way for three minutes of one simplistic yet highly effective pounding rhythm is reminiscent of the way nature morte
as a unit builds up to its closing cut: one of distorted calm and explicit vulnerability. ‘the ten of swords’ accumulates its subdued force through the experience of the record’s contorted world, arguably a strength and a weakness at once, and requires no frills to paint the record’s final glimpse of dread. The league Big|Brave are continuously uncovering is one of their own: not explicitly inviting, but altogether demanding and utterly rewarding.