Home > Reviews > Live Reviews > 27/05/2011 | BRAIDS – Jericho Tavern, Oxford

27/05/2011 | BRAIDS – Jericho Tavern, Oxford

Maria Turauskis

Triangle

It’s Friday night, it’s the end of term, and the Oxford Jericho is utterly rammed with celebrating students full of joie de vive and cider. Whilst some of the crowd clearly have a certain degree of obsolesce towards the band, pretentiously sitting at the back observing in cold judgement, as BRAIDS appear the stage area quickly becomes saturated with people, so much so that the band are barely even visible ten feet back.

BRAIDS are a long way from home tonight; originally from Alberta, Canada, they are currently promoting their debut album Native Speaker. The group are young, with all the correct cerebral, art rock, shoe-gaze credentials, and there is certainly an aura of intrigue and knowing curiosity amongst the audience – who seem to have been drip fed information on how exciting BRAIDS are, and are now here to confirm any suspicions.

The performance starts unassumingly as BRAIDS slowly develop their rich tapestry of sound. The music builds to a veritable wall of reverb heavy music, with vocals, drums, guitars and synth merging together and washing over you in a thick deluge of sound. This droning, ambient quality continues throughout the performance as a constant presence – a throbbing, rotating, pulsating and convulsing aural wave. The intensity of the sound peaks and troughs, sometimes being limited to one or two instruments, sometimes loud and bordering on unintelligible, but there is always constant, almost oppressive, consistent music present in some form. Even in the short interludes of conversation with the audience the music continues in some way. Songs emerge from this drone; odd hooks from familiar tracks such as Plath Heart and Lemonade become audible, and them submerge themselves once again, like creatures returning to the sea.

Each individual composite instrument of this general sound is audible however, and are interesting and accomplished. The drums in particular have a great tone that is rich, deep and multi-dimensional; from lacerating cymbal whips to the simple, anchoring bass drum. Synths are present, but the music is not synth heavy and the timbres are not too overbearing. They more work as an enriching addition, supplementing the sound with a refined complexity. The lead vocals are typically soft and delicate, often with a girlishly angelic quality. There are occasional sections where more dynamic vocal efforts occur, but they are not particularly reactionary or emotive. The whole vocal performance of lead singer Raphaelle Standell is instead very considered and measured – the pressure and pronunciation of each word is intelligible, precise and intended. They are beautiful though; Standell has a fantastic range and smooth grain through the octaves. She uses her voice very much as an instrument, correlating it perfectly with all the other ambient additions.

Tonight, then BRAIDS have successfully delivered a smoothly executed and considered show. Their collage of sounds have collected together in a dynamic and uplifting fashion, which was close at times to perfection. A wonderful experience.

www.braidsmusic.com

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