Brute Heart: Brass Beads


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.