Vapid, vacuous, and pretentious, Brass Beads by Brute Heart is an offering on which one does well to take a pass.
The concept for this trio is interesting enough. The instrumentation is viola (Jackie Beckey), bass (Crystal Myslajek), and drums (Crystal Brinkman) with all three on vocals, and the idea is along the lines of avant-garde rock. Brute Heart even come recommended by prestigious print and radio media. The press release attests that they create artistry “driven by experimentation…a pursuit for spatial parameters” with “haunting flourishes and an impelling rhythm…weaving interlocking melody lines.” Despite all that, the album, produced by John Marks, is nine numbers of inert tedium that will admirably serve in the event you’re suffering a sleepless night and your medicine cabinet is fresh out of Sominex.
Point in case, “Blooming Trees” starts out by repeating an innocuous, percussive figure of plucked strings accented by a complementing backbeat. While you’re waiting for the composition to go somewhere, you sit through this figure over and over, listen to it highlighted by a two-part vocal of wordless noodling that winds up amounting to nonsense until there ensues an intermittent pattern of dramatic swipes of the bow string. Then the lead vocalist takes over the singing, whereupon you still endure silliness right up to the point at which she segues into an unintelligible recitation. Before the song regrettably returns to the same uneventful note on which it began, never having done a single thing of consequence. “She Wait” follows right behind it and, for that matter, opens like a continuation of the very same song, except it’s with boring paint-by-numbers bass intro that’s meant to pass for something ominous. The principle difference between the cuts is that “She Waits” has lyrics, equally garbled, and eventually shifts pace from brisk to languid bordering on sluggish. From opening to closing track, that’s pretty much what you have: weak, oddball musings that, on top of each one largely sounding like the one before it, qualify at best as ideas for someone who can actually write a song to come along and make something sensible of.
The method of operation for Brass Beads is, to paraphrase the old saying, if you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, give them the impression you’re doing something by pretending to dazzle them with brilliance.