By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
At times sounding eerie or even completely foreign, Brass Beads brings a mysterious aura rarely found in music today. In their first LP release, Brute Heart, a female trio from Minneapolis (Jackie Beckey on viola, Crystal Brinkman on drums, and Crystal Myslajek on bass), have created a unique, boundary-pushing collage of songs. The decision to release their album on vinyl (which includes a digital download) lends itself well to their style, as Brute Heart's vision is thoroughly awash in acoustic reverb.
The record contains a wide breadth of colorful tones, tinged with emotions that words can't translate. Howls, hoots, aahs, and a rapid rhythmic snare create delightful ruminations unspoiled by pretension, driven only by instinct, experimentation, and a hunt for spatial parameters. Their sultry and intense delivery recalls a younger Grace Slick, making for a surrealistic and hypnotic experience that lacks any trace of rock bombast or overindulgence.
"Demons," the solid, gracefully meandering opener, leads into "Scritch Scratch," which features a Middle-Eastern viola line bridging a colorful arrangement of melodic vocals. "Brass Beads Sharp Teeth" is the least avant-garde tune on the album, bringing a fantastically funky bass line throughout, eventually resolved with plucky viola flourishes and familiar staccato vocals. Midway through the disc, an instrumental called "Sawdust" gives a needed pause, then transitions into a well-sequenced second half, often merging one track into the next with little to no overlap.
The songs may not knock you off your feet at first, but after only a few listens, these voices' melodic structures will permeate your perception. Brass Beads is fair warning and ample notice that the avant-garde has returned, lucky for us, to our small corner of the world.