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Brasstronaut - Old World Lies EP

Old World Lies EP
Unfamiliar - 2008

Michael Panontin
This Vancouver octet curiously anchors its sound around Bryan Davies' brooding horns and Edo Van Breemen's hushed piano stylings. Though the pair go back further, having met up playing hippie jams as far back as 2002, it wasn't until the self-effacing trumpeter had returned from music studies in Amsterdam that the ball really got rolling for the band. Brasstronaut's closest kin up here in Canuckistan would probably be Taylor Kirk's Timber Timbre project, especially the breathy vocals that give both bands a wistful, almost melancholic feel. But where Kirk's creepy blues are more backwoods and southern, the sounds here are decidedly more west coast, with hints of Chet Baker's sombre sadness throughout.

On their debut four-song disc, Davies and Van Breemen surround themselves with bass, drums, tuba, trombone, cello, violin, viola and accordion - with amazingly not a guitar in the whole lot! - yet manage to keep things so deceptively minimal...and lyrically scathing. The title cut tackles the slave trade with a simple piano and whispery vocal, incriminating both sides of the ocean in the process ("sugar cane and spices made the worst of us / chains rattled all across the sea"). Ditto for the equally lovely, hipster-skewering 'Requiem for a Scene'. Even prettier, though, is the five-minute instrumental 'Fan', where Davies soars to dizzying heights balancing a simple horn riff atop subtly placed piano and percussion. Nice.



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