Big|Brave- A Chaos of Flowers Review

In respect to last year’s excellent Nature Morte, A Chaos of Flowers feels like fallout. While tracks like “Carvers, Ferriers, and Knaves” and “The Fable of Trusting” offered tension and devastation in ways that set brute force at just another place at the crooked wooden table, Big|Brave offer an even more subdued album – a direct response to its predecessor, and an even more spiritual successor to their collaboration with The Body, Leaving None But Small Birds. Americana is a specter that haunts every movement of A Chaos of Flowers, leaving a trail of footprints through crunchy leaves as metamorphic rain falls upon tired Appalachia. In short, Big|Brave offers a place, humid and cold, rooted in founding members Robin Wattie and Matthieu Ball’s acoustic folk-oriented beginnings.

The Montreal trio has always offered what they coin “massive minimalism,” and A Chaos of Flowers represents its most minimalist offering. Big|Brave does away with earthshaking, mountainous compositions of drone riffs in favor of an evocative, simmering, and otherworldly experience. In ways that recall Portal’s dichotomy of Avow and Hagbulbia, A Chaos of Flower’s vibe is more about feeling than punishment, channeling the poetry of renowned thinkers and writers as well as original lyrics, portraying the struggle of life in Robin Wattie’s tormented wails and whispery croons. A retraction of its predecessor’s punishment, A Chaos of Flowers finds Big|Brave acknowledging its folk roots in a subdued noisy palette that is nonetheless meditative and populated by voices of whispering pines.

A Chaos Of Flowers by BIG|BRAVE

Big|Brave does not intend punishment. Each track features minimal percussion, driven by swaths of noise and gentle guitar. Original lyrics find themselves in only “Canon: In Canon” and “Quotidian: Solemnity,” the other tracks featuring poetry from Emily Dickinson, E. Pauline Johnson, Renee Vivien, and other female writers from traditionally marginalized communities. In the past, although Wattie’s vocals have always featured their own spotlight, listeners could simply focus on the mountainous riffs – A Chaos of Flowers is rawer, more subdued, and focused on storytelling through the lens of the marginalized. The emphasis on poetry and prose contrasts the trio’s more upfront lyrics that have dominated past albums, in that it confronts uncomfortable experiences and existential contemplation rather than explicit calls for change. Big|Brave attacks listeners with its words, not its riffs.

Bluesy folk and Americana dominate the chord progressions, while gentle guitar in “Moonset” and “Canon: In Canon” guide the proceedings. Beneath the crushing noise of “Not Speaking of the Ways” and “I Felt a Funeral” lies the remains of a southern rock song, lamented in the shades of the pines, while the spidery leads of “Chanson Pour Mon Ombre” and “Theft” lend themselves to the fingers of atmosphere atop drone’s calloused hands. Big|Brave excels in creating a place, piece by piece, with Wattie’s vocals the guide to surviving the Appalachian winter. A Chaos of Flowers feels like the light on the icy grass blades after the first hard frost of spring that was Nature Morte, chilling and more disconcerting than the knowledge of the cold. Distortion taints the light throughout, as “I Felt a Funeral” and “Theft” offer plaintive vulnerability twisted under hopeless lyrics.

Big|Brave submit an odd release with A Chaos of Flowers, as its existence relies on its predecessor – nuclear winter after the war of many casualties. As such, it does not do well to stand alone, and interlude “A Song for Marie, Part III” feels unnecessary while some tracks don’t feel cohesive with the whole. However, it’s composed intelligently, as the two original pieces are the closest to the trio’s avant-drone sound as we get, serving as respective climaxes to the meditation of the surrounding poetry. Somehow, like Reverend Kristin Michael Hayter’s stripped-down debut last year, Big|Brave’s vulnerability feels even more stark than its riff-dominated past. Its existence relies on another recording, so it likely won’t make many lists this year, but it serves as an intriguing companion piece to one of last year’s best offerings. A challenging book of poetry to proudly display on your shelves.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: n/a | Format Reviewed: STREAM
Label: Thrill Jockey Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: April 19th, 2024

The post Big|Brave- A Chaos of Flowers Review appeared first on Angry Metal Guy.

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