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EERDERE EDITIES | 2007 | MUZIEK | BRACKEN


Biography

Bracken is a musical project spinning in a loose and illdefined orbit around founder member Chris Adams. In another life, Chris, along with his brother Richard are known as cocaptains of the good ship Hood. In this latest incarnation we see a side-step/stumble into a puzzling soundworld of future pop, analogue tape trickery, avant drone, loose dub flourishes, hip hop pacing and clattering drums. Anticon are proud to welcome Bracken to the fold.

 

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When asked about the musical ambition driving the Bracken project, the answers are typically obscure, “I decided to make a one-off piece of music with the brief that it had to sound exactly like a pop band being frozen solid and then shattered into a million pieces … and then the next thing I know I've gone and started a whole new band.”

Furthermore, the recording process itself is wrapped up in the preferred lexicon of descriptive avoidance, “I’d say a good comparison would be that of constructing flat-pack furniture. You’ve got an idea of what you’re meant to end up with, you’ve got all the tools and all the parts, and you try to knock it all together to make it work but it won’t quite fit. So you cut a little bit off here, maybe use something from another failed project and glue it on there, then once it’s finally standing, you put a cloth over it and a vase and hope the damn thing doesn’t collapse. Basically, with Bracken, a lot of square pegs end up being forced into round holes until ultimately I up with something new and unexpected”.

 

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Bracken now operate out of a home studio located in the heart of Leeds’ bustling crack district and collaborates with blood relatives, wellwishers and kindred spirits divided only by oceans and thousands upon thousands of miles. For the first time in Belgium!

 

Discography

-) 2006: 'Heathens' on Anticon.

Angryape's point of view :

Bracken is the new project of Chris Adams from Leeds experimentalists Hood and his debut EP Heathens, shares some of the same magical qualities that has donned the classic LPs Cold House and Outside Closer before it.

Heathens is one of those rare moments that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand and leaves you with a funny tingling feeling inside. Sewn together by a futuristic craftsman, the lead track seamingly skips and builds through Prefuse 73 stuttered claps and beats, dubby horns, hypnotic keyboards and Adams' half-troubled, half-heartbreak vocals.

The b-sides are a different kettle of fish altogether. We Cut The Tapes And Scatter is where outsider folk meets psych and hip hop, composed by live percussion, chopped up strings and guitars, to the space-like mantra vocals. Out is the EP's brief last moment; one and half minutes of spiralling Eno style ambience and the silent crackle of vinyl hiss, for what is the subtle but sublime end to a perfect record.

What I truly love about Heathens, is Bracken's flippant use of genre-fusing, from hip hop to electronica, to post-rock, trip-hop and shoegazing, this EP has everything imaginable. What a bold statement for a first release, the idea of a full-length offering is already leaving this listener drooling with anticipation.

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-) 2007: 'We Know About The Need' on Anticon.

Pitchfork's point of view :

Born as a sort of ramshackle folk act, peddling lo-fi ennui à la Sebadoh, the Leeds quartet Hood evolved surprisingly into a post-rock act. And their recent work, peaking on 2001's Cold House, took another startling turn, toward Anticon's glitchy hip-hop aesthetic. This abiding sense in Hood's work of the pastoral slowly giving way to technology is mirrored in band member Chris Adams' one-off solo project, Bracken.

Adams drew an analogy between producing We Know About the Need and assembling flat-pack furniture. "A lot of square pegs," he admitted, "end up being forced into round holes." His approach gives the record a charming incoherence. Adams riffs on his old band's signature sounds: the drone ("Evil Teeth", "La Monte Lament"), the hiccuping futurism ("Safe Safe Safe", "Many Horses"), and textures you can swim in ("Heathens"). What marks We Know is a pronounced dubstep vibe, a haunting emphasis on the low-key and the low end.

"Of Athroll Slains" announces this emphasis, resting on its moody, clattering rhythms, as Adams sings with a halting delivery that unfurls into sleepy melisma. It's as close to a disembodied voice as it gets. He perfects the mixture of atmosphere and dub thump on lead single "Heathens". The density of the sound-- a soup of horns, organs, guitars, reverb-soaked vocals-- makes the song sound like screwed-and-chopped background noise. But in a good way. There are untold details to sift through, melodies to follow, in the washes of pirate-radio static.

For every person bored to tears by dubstep, 100 are bored by drone. Yet Adams' flirtations with willful monotony always leave something for the ear: the lushly Gregorian "Music for Adverts"; the drum solos and humming cello of "Evil Teeth"; the quivering, unbroken tone of "La Monte Lament". These forays into stillness work as well as their can't-stand-still foils, from the fluid and urban musique concrète of "Fight or Flight" to the twitches of nervous digitalism on "Many Horses", humanized by the clarinet and piano. They manage to be warm and icy, mechanical and natural, at the same time.

Not until we round back to the closing track "Back on the Calder Line" does the repetition start to tire, as Adams attempts to recreate the anomie-laden majesty of "Heathens", building on glacial beats, his ghostly phrasing, and fingerpicked notes. Nevertheless, We Know About the Need emerges as a slippery, engrossingly genreless take on the old theme of desolation in the city.

Roque Strew - website.

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Audio

-) Bracken, taken from 'Heathens' and 'We Know About The Need'.

 

Web

-) Myspace.
-) Anticon.