Debut CD by Beau Brother
I have to admit that I’ve been sort of under water and this release was mailed to me by Jordan Dykstra months ago. Life has a way of changing life, and sometimes you have to give in. When I finally uncovered the CD College Hotel, I wanted to get a room at there and never face responsibility of any real sort again. But we can never escape our sentience. This probably has nothing to do with the naming of College Hotel. I think they just liked the photograph that made the album cover.
The album is nothing like the jollies I can imagine at such a hotel anyway. It’s weird, improvised super-tonal and anti-rhythmic music for those willing to feel strange for an hour. This is the product of three dudes that get together to make sounds playing different instruments every time. These recordings come from sessions in Val Verde, Joshua Tree, and the historic Cathedral of Saint Vibiana in Los Angeles, California.
Where they find consistency is in response to the environment while taking one essential approach. I cannot put my finger on what that approach is, but I would say it is characterized by prudence. When you’re exploring tones, you can’t move on quickly and go anywhere with them: You dig in. Plus, they all fall back on their primary instruments: for Dykstra it is viola, Jean-Paul Jenkins, guitar, and Caspar Sonnet, lap-steel guitar. Each of them plays electronics and bowed percussion, somewhere on this record.
“On the Spectrum” reaches for that rare connection, that moment of unity while out of unison, producing a space that opens up wide overtones and long curves. It happens right around 17:00. This song does not include Sonnet. Jenkins and Dykstra wade through a continuous stream with just a few notes, bending through them slowly, thus finding limitless variation.
“Layers as They Lie” follows up with something cut-up and jarring. It doesn’t include Jenkins. This piece is more conceptual than the prior, and produces more complex tones surprisingly with lots of percussion techniques. It leaps around rather than holds steady. More cartoonish imagery comes to mind: primal man and the noise of post-industrial-modern life, for example.
All of these songs are long and require active listening. There are no lyrics, so you can’t get into a sing-along mode or even really hum. Or wait, you could hum. This is interactive, it actually embeds itself into your environment. It doesn’t compete with other sounds, it becomes a part of them. You can join in. The music makers embrace the oneness of sound.
College Hotel is available now via Editions Verde Merchandise. You can stream it here via BandCamp where digital copies are also available.