BIG|BRAVE’s music has been described as massive minimalism. Their fusillades of textural distortion and feedback emphasize their music’s frayed edges as much as its all-encompassing weight. The potency of the trio’s work is their singular artistry combining elements of traditional folk techniques and a modern deconstruction of guitar music. Gain, feedback, and amplitude are essential to A Chaos Of Flowers, an album that builds on their ferocious 2023 album nature morte.
Lyrically, the songs explore the most vulnerable of human experiences, how marginalizations manifest internally and externally, the inner struggles of isolation, and co-existence in nature. A Chaos of Flowers draws on catharsis and beauty as well as the quagmire of disorientation and othering. The album is a monument of simultaneous serenity and disquiet, a subtle maelstrom of internal life.
For A Chaos Of Flowers guitarist/vocalist Robin Wattie drew heavily on the poems of artists whom Wattie found kinship in, their words resonant with experiences of those often sidelined by cultural norms. “I discovered that most poems from folk traditions or in the public domain seem to be by men – to which I could not quite relate. In my search, I rediscovered some of my favorite works and poets,” says Wattie. Wattie’s interpolation of poetry from artists around the world and across womanhood, intermingled with her own, examines the chaos and confusion alienation breeds in the psyche of those othered by society. “It is a feeling of relatability and even astonishment really,” Wattie notes, “with how these writers of different standings and eras and all being female-presenting, each expressing these seemingly similar intense moments of individual experiences, of intimacy and madness. We’re alone, and yet, not.”
Guitarist Mathieu Ball and drummer Tasy Hudson help Wattie shape poetry into pieces as dense and impenetrable as they are vulnerable. Volume and noise have been essential tools in BIG|BRAVE’s catalog. A Chaos Of Flowers keenly reconfigures how the band utilize each element of their sound, allowing the space for loud movements to feel achingly quiet and abundant with delicate gestures. Ball’s guitar soars in long arcs and blusters in thick layers around Wattie’s own resolute chords. Hudson delivers her most powerfully reserved performances on record, incorporating elegant brushwork and making deft use of cymbal-work to give the songs’ deliberate paces momentum. Wattie’s voice is tempered and unhurried throughout which guides the reverent tone of each piece. Guest guitarist Marisa Anderson lends earthen, blues-inflected atmospheres to the album, where guitarist Tashi Dorji and saxophonist Patrick Shiroishi amplify the squall. Working closely with frequent collaborator and producer/engineer Seth Manchester, the internal tumult of Wattie’s voice rings out in warbles, haunting echoes, and unearthly harmonies across bold immense walls of distortion.
Led by Montréal producer Vicky Mettler, Kee Avil combines guitar, voice, electroacoustics and electronic production to create song assemblages that teeter on the edge of collapse while oozing forward, like sticky resin picking up and shedding disparate elements along the way.
Kee Avil evolved from playing guitar with broken cymbals and drumsticks to forging askew tempos and templates glued together by samples of screws dropped into crystal bowls. Her self-titled debut EP, released in 2018 on Black Bough Records, harnessed her improvised music and prepared guitar background toward a newfound structural sensibility and arresting vocal/lyrical experimentation; she has been immersed in the exploration of distinctive compositional architectures ever since, expanding her sonic palette with increasing and intensive detail, where twitchy, finely wrought postpunk electro-industrial avant-pop songs are meticulously assembled to resemble disassembly.
Kee Avil’s emerging body of work signals a vital, viscous, virtuosic new voice in experimental songcraft–where touchstones include Juana Molina, Scott Walker, Fiona Apple and Eartheater; where PJ Harvey meets Pan Daijing or Grouper melds with Autechre.
Her debut album Crease was released on Constellation in March 2022 and is her most structured work to date, each out-of-tune guitar note, croaking vocal line, distorted snare meticulously assembled to resemble disassembly. It was nominated for a JUNO award in 2023 (album artwork)