Uptown by Trevor de Brauw

Release date: February 10, 2017
Label: The Flenser

On February 10th, 2017 Trevor de Brauw has released his first solo album called Uptown. Trevor is best known for his work with instrumental post-rock/metal band Pelican. He’s well experienced and has more than 20 years of experience with a guitar. Different from his work with Pelican his solo album is more about ambient washed-out riffs, deconstructed drones, and carefully controlled feedback.

Uptown was written and recorded over the span of nearly a decade. It represents a scrapbook from a formative era in Trevor’s life bookended by a stint on a remote tobacco farm and his return to the anxiety-ridden urban eccentricities of Chicago’s historic Uptown neighborhood. Uptown is a stream of consciousness sustained for too long, an aural pendulum swinging between poles of murky distress and cathartic resolve that takes shape somewhere in the hazy valleys between rock, ambient and experimental music.

The album consists of 6 tracks going from 3 to 12 minutes and in total the album clocks off at 39 minutes. The opening track, called ‘A New Architecture’, throws you in an ambient drone of sound that achieves melody when a guitar breaks through the wall in all its fragility. The wall of sounds pans to the back creating a nice duality between drone and guitar.

The next track is ‘Distinct Frequency’, and you’ll notice Trevor de Brauw has experience creating atmosphere in his music. But then again, he’s got some musical miles on his belt. The song creates an eerie vibe with a good mix of drones and sound effects. This could be a fine soundtrack to a short film I would enjoy.

From the beginning you’ll hear that this album needs a few listens until you hear every detail that’s poured into this album. It’s raw but also detailed, aggressive but calm, Trevor brings this duality so well it’s a pleasure to listen to it.

‘They Keep Bowing’ is slightly more aggressive in my eyes and it is a well placed resting point in the album where you can dream away into a dark abyss. It sets a certain calming mood that just puts you back, you close your eyes and are ride the musical waves. Going up and down guided by some melody in the distance.

A bit of an oddball tracks, but nevertheless amazing is ‘You Were Sure’, as it differentiates itself on the album for having vocals. However this fits amazingly in the song it starts with a sub track that sets the mood. After a while the guitar with vocals enter the room which create an whole new dimension.

Now if you’re listening to this song, just be happy Lil John doesn’t come into the building. ‘Turn Up For What’, but no, except for me admitting to some sins made in my younger days this song has nothing to do with the party song. It does somehow remind me of the blip that appears in  Sigur Rós – ‘Svefn-g-englar’. The bleep echoes creating its own guideline to the song after a while guitar appears in the distance. It feels like the track is telling us a complicated tale of which we don’t know the solution.

As a finisher there’s ‘From the Black Soil Poetry and Song Sprang’. Except for being the longest title on Uptown, it’s also the longest track, coincidence? It’s got a happy feel to it, the fizzy guitar just cheers the drones up. This would be the soundtrack to play if the sun is coming up and you’re just lying in the grass enjoying everything come alive.

Uptown is a great solo debut from a guitar player who’s proven his talent many times. It took him some years, but in the end the result is amazing. A recommended listen on a cold night sitting next to the fire place.

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