Reviews

BIG|BRAVE, Vital (Southern Lord, 2021)

Two years after my review of A Gaze Among Them, and roughly 6 years since first hearing them, I'm grateful to write about the latest LP by BIG|BRAVE.

Vital is now available digitally and on CD as of the 23rd of April through Southern Lord and will be released on vinyl on the 9th of July.

Throughout the last year, I think it's safe to say people have been looking inward or at their sense of identity more than in the past, or at least their perspectives on what identity can be rooted in. Interactions between individuals, groups, and intrapersonally have become a daily study in adaptation and/or resistance. 

As stated in their press release, “this album involves what it means navigating the outside world in a racialized body and what it does to the psyche as a whole while exploring individual worth within this reality.”

To further express these themes, BIG|BRAVE made two videos before the release of Vital for the songs "Half Breed" and "Of This Ilk." Both videos are engaging visual representations in examining identity on multiple levels and effectively bring further life force to the music.

Also, the lyrics were influenced by the writings of author Alexander Chee; specifically material from his collection of essays released in 2018, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel.

While I'll avoid going into lengthy detail, I'd be remiss to not say how I've begun sorting through Vital as a listener. I feel as though personal identity has become more popular to be used as a weapon as opposed to a way to find strength and empower others.

While there are multiple cultures represented within my family, I've seen how a homogenized approach to life made it difficult to feel connected to my family and often led me to seek out cultures that aren't my own.

Without veering away from Vital, I want to thank the members of BIG|BRAVE for their vulnerability in presenting this record. It's clear their intent is about empowerment and seeing yourself from a standpoint beyond the world's critical gaze.

If I can comment on anything specifically music-related, I hear a tremendously patient approach to playing as a band. The music is full of life both in its moments of stillness and at its loudest. 

The band returned to Machine with Magnets in Rhode Island and worked with Seth Manchester(also known for his work with Lingua Ignota, The Body, etc.) and I anxiously wait for the opportunity to hear these songs live. 

BIG|BRAVE is Robin Wattie, Mathieu Ball, and Tasy Hudson

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