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LIVE: BIG|BRAVE / AICHER – Lending Room, Leeds, 25/05/2024

BIG|BRAVE were never going to be just hanging around. The Canadian metal merchants had already set sail for a mammoth tour of Europe and the UK a good fortnight before the release of their 7th studio album, A Chaos of Flowers on the 19th of April.

It is now 46 days and 28 shows into a tour that has seen BIG|BRAVE play in no less than 16 countries and they are showing absolutely no signs of fatigue. The core trio of Robin Wattie (guitar and vocals), Mathieu Ball (guitar), and Tasy Hudson (drums) are augmented on this tour by Liam Andrews (bass).

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Liam Andrews is the bass guitarist and vocalist with Australian industrial outfit MY DISCO. He also discharges support act duties on this leg of the tour with his solo project AICHER where he produces wave upon wave of repurposed sonic structures and often apocalyptic subterranean noise. He is joined for the most part of his 25 minute set by Mathieu Ball. They are certainly not taking it easy for half an hour later they both return, joined on stage this time by Robin Wattie and Tasy Hudson. The four musicians then proceed to lay carefully controlled cosmic waste to the vast bulk of A Chaos of Flowers.

‘chanson pour mon ombre’ smoulders and burns, a fluid exercise in splicing avant-metal with free jazz. A cautious abstract beauty lies deep within this fearless experimentation as the opener haemorrhages into the startling ‘not speaking of the ways’ where it is only the anchor of Andrews’ bass that prevents the song breaking free from its moorings and disappearing into outer space.

On their latest album BIG|BRAVE have dialled back on the full-force sound evident on their earlier records. Here they dilute the heavy absorption with a certain restraint, leaning more towards a textured balance. This is further evidenced as they float through ‘canon : in canon’, ‘quotidian : solemnity’, and ‘theft’ albeit lost deep within a transcendental squall of feedback, dynamic distortion, and improvisation. The spectral cadence of Robin Wattie’s voice merely adds to a growing sense of otherworldliness.

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There is an unquestionably melodic warmth underpinning this latest music from BIG|BRAVE, albeit not manifesting itself in any conventional sense. Whilst this sonic shift has opened the doors to a wider cultural accessibility – ‘i felt a funeral’ is based upon the 19th century American poet Emily Dickinson’s ‘I felt a Funeral, in my Brain’ and its inherent sense of loss – it would be a great mistake to believe that BIG|BRAVE have suddenly gone completely soft. As if to reinforce this point they conclude this mesmeric performance with a vitriolic blast of ‘moonset’, an immense valedictory message reminding us that BIG|BRAVE now embrace the quiet with the loud, immersing the listener deep inside a vacuum of light and shade.

Photos: Simon Godley

More photos of BIG|BRAVE and AICHER at The Lending Room in Leeds

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.