Sound: Here's a story you've heard a million times before -- after relentless gigging and rehearsing a young band got noticed, signed a deal with an EP and LP following it. A tour with some famous colleagues (in our case -- Coheed And Cambria, Sparta), comeback home and thoughts about if it all is worth to be continued. Luckily the band from Muncie, Indiana, Brazil decided to keep things going, signed to a major label Immortal and together with producer Dave Fridmann (The Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev) released their second album, out October 3rd, 2006.
Brazil makes you understand they take a serious approach to their art -- an album, entitled "The Philosophy Of Velocity" is not your every day easy-listening. There are six musicians in the band and every one makes his presence worth to be, stuffing the music with his own ideas and emotions. As a final product, it all appears to be a bouquet of different sounds, combined into a solid piece of a song. Even though it might seem there are too many sounds in one track, it won't feel the same without every particular line. The tracks are moody and it feels like the musicians managed to fulfill music with their own emotions. Vocalist Jonathon Newby claims he finds his muse feeling discomfort in his life. Maybe that is the reason for the dark and bitter atmosphere evident through the entire album.
Naming Sylvia Plath and Genesis among their influences, Brazil for sure carries the experience of masterpieces in their music. It is evident in a skilled songwriting -- there are no excessive parts in the songs and everything feels to be at the right place.
Brazil uses some "unmusical" sounds, but do it very carefully -- adding poring water to create mellow atmosphere in "Captain Mainwaring" or typewriter in a small piano intro "On Safe-Cracking And Rubella" to introduce you to the album and show it's a solid piece of art, not just another 12-track record. "Au, Revoir, Mr. Mercury" would remind you of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" by the similar expression and tension.
The guitars are multilayered and would remind you the exercises in your music school. Progressive piano adds drama -- it's the instrument that differ Brazil from a lot of other rock bands. Not only it exists in arrangements, Nic Newby also shows some wonderful passionate work.
"Strange Days" goes in? and is beautifully sad. The album gets the peak of emotionality in this track with all the instruments exploding in mutual orgasm. As well as the emotions of a human being are, the album is unexpected in all aspects. The sudden end of the album is a part of it. The closer "Strange Days" just breaks up and leave you wondering if there are gonna be a continuation. Only if you've listened closely, the sound of the same typewriter would let you know the journey is over. // 8
Lyrics: Jonathon Newby's vocals are higher than you would suppose a man's vocals to be. His hysterical singing adds shiver to gloomy tracks of "The Philosophy of Velocity." Newby wonderfully imitates the Russian accent, rolling "rrrrr" in "Strange Days" which makes the song sound like a theatrical drama performance. Brazil tells stories in their songs, coloring them with different bright characters -- such as manic-depressive submarine captain Mainwaring or steam robots. // 9
Overall Impression: The album cover has a poor writer in frustration turning down every next sheet of art, typed on a typewriter. I would believe the picture showcases the way Brazil makes their music. Working on "The Philosophy Of Velocity," they crafted it as a real work of art -- here are highlights of high tension (tracks "Au, Revoir, Mr. Mercury," "A Year In Heaven"), more modest evolving parts ("Crime (And The Antique Solution)," "Captain Mainwaring") and pieces that connect them ("On Safe-cracking And Rubella," "The Remarkable Cholmondley Chute System").
If you dedicate 48 minutes of your life to listening to "The Philosophy Of Velocity" without interrupting to anything else, after the first couple minutes you'll find the album breathtaking. The album has to grow on you as the music is very experimental and can't be put under any standards or compared to other bands. Listening to "The Philosophy Of Velocity," you realize Brazil have found something a lot of bands are looking years for... A happy medium between diverse and overload? The right point where to stop? Whatever you call it, Brazil knows how to keep the things interesting. // 8