Brass “Set & Drift” (Self-Released)
If Brass were around ten years ago they would be on Desoto Records and J. Robbins would be producing this record. If that sounds appealing to you (and it should), then you need Set & Drift.
Brass’ Set & Drift is just one of those records that I dread reviewing. It has been sitting at the top of my “to do reviews” pile for weeks now. This is certainly not a record that you can just sit down, listen to a couple of times and then belt out a paragraph or two and feel like you have done it some kind of justice. In fact, I spent a good hour going through my music collection just trying to draw some parallels to what the Brass are doing here. And hell, all I came up with was a list of about 10-15 bands that I’m not sure make sense or not. I did at least figure out who Brass vocalist Joe Webber reminded me so much of. It was vocalist/guitarist Donnie Dureau of the Australian band Blueline Medic. It seems as though Dureau and Webber could be voice doubles. It should also be noted that the bands are similar in scope with their angular, yet driving styles. It especially shows on the Brass track “The Optimist.” However, Brass are a bit more ambitious than Blueline Medic ever were and Set & Drift is a remarkable journey because of that.
I mention Webber’s vocals because they are certainly noteworthy. His vocals are peculiar yet they fit right in tune with the band’s sonic whirlwind. And what a maelstrom of sound Brass are able to create on Set & Drift. The band is so adept in their arrangements and everything sounds completely natural and organic. Not to mention the tracking of the album is perfect. That is a characteristic that is far too often overlooked. Bad tracking has hindered some great records over the years. Set & Drift is a tremendously diverse album as well. Brass can go from tempered instrumentals to raw screams at will. Screaming has become cliche but Brass practice it ever so subtly that it is able strike a real nerve. It adds yet another characteristic (aggression) to the band’s already rich sound. With all those elements at play, the band never restricts themselves and never stretches their compositions to thin. Tempos change and moods may float in and out but, there is a solid atmosphere that the band has created. It hovers over Set & Drift almost triumphantly. It is the sound of a band truly finding their own unique voice and it is intoxicating.
In this day and age it is beyond pleasurable to hear a band that is quite capable of standing completely alone against all odds and comparisons. Set & Drift is everything a rock band should strive for in an album. But, it is also mysterious and challenging. Of course that will turn some listeners away. Yet, by taking that less traveled path, Brass are primed to win a lot of hearts and ears with such a bold record. Try as you might, Set & Drift is not easily interpreted. But perhaps, that is its charm and why I can’t stop listening.
Autumn Hex Signs