It might be a debut album, but it’s not a novice effort- Brain Tentacles is the combined effort of Bruce Lamont (Bloodiest), Dave Witte (A Richmond na
It might be a debut album, but it’s not a novice effort- Brain Tentacles is the combined effort of Bruce Lamont (Bloodiest), Dave Witte (A Richmond native and former member of Publicist UK, Circle of Animals), and Aaron Dallison (Keelhaul), who each bring their own practice and experience to the project.
The three of them have played music in some of the same circles for years, but united during a touring project in 2013. The group claims ties to RVA and Chicago and the result is a powerful and strident album which seems to blend the drive and power of a metal band with the responsive improvisation of jazz.
The pace of the music and tone of the instruments creates a heavy atmosphere that, nonetheless, rejoices in the energy of its expression.
But Bruce Lamont, saxophonist and vocalist, isn’t quite comfortable pinning down the music. “It’s got some melodic moments,” he said. “It can be abrasive at times, it can be not-so-abrasive at times.”
The group seems to have built up a particular aesthetic. Brain Tentacles’ album cover shows off a pastiche of a classical painting, where a brain-kraken reaches out of the depths of the ocean to sink a ship, and their promotional music video, featuring their song “Fruitcake,” shows a boy in an alien mask running around the woods. He carries a rock which shifts colors in the same manic pattern as his mask while the music plays, both energetic and ominous.
Throw in a tag-line from their Instagram page, that the band is “exploring the outer limits of sound,” and there seems to be an atmospheric sci-fi element at work.
Some of this imagery is a happy accident, though. “[Witte] just made it up,” said Lamont. “And he was really happy to go on the internet and see that nobody had taken it. In this day and age it’s rough naming a band.”
Lamont talked a little bit about how the group gets its distinctive sound. “We’re running the saxophone through a couple of pocket pedals, which, I guess, gives it a little more menacing kind of sound,” he said.
Lamont can see why people want to describe Brain Tentacles as something of a jazz/metal hybrid, but he’s not really on board with that. “I just would never want to limit us to any one particular genre, style, sound,” he said. “I know everyone tries to say that, but we really- we mean it.”
Ultimately, he’d rather focus on the creative element. “We just came up with melodies and started writing songs. It’s as simple as that.”
Looking back over the first parts of creating the album, Lamont recalled that he and Witte brought their own melodic and rhythmic ideas together in creating songs. When Dallison joined on bass, they were able to experiment with melodies and countermelodies, and the group really began to play off of each other. “Writing with these two is super easy,” said Lamont. “We actually have another five or six songs that aren’t recorded that we could throw together quite easily.”
The most important thing, though, was not to overthink the process. “Some of the songs we have technically have like two riffs, and that’s fine,” said Lamont. “There’s no need to be cramming 70 parts into a song unless it calls for it.”
You can check out Brain Tentacles’s main site here, where you can buy physical and digital copies of the album, as well as some merchandise. The group also has a Bandcamp page and can be found at other online retailers like Amazon, Spotify, and iTunes.