Brian Bradley is a Minnesota-based indie-electronic musician and visual artist. On March 5th, he released a new EP titled Nocturnes via BonFire Records. It’s a beautifully melodic piano-based EP that calms and hits right in the feels. A much needed listening experience during these unprecedented times.
We wanted to know what influenced Brian and his music so we asked him one of our most favourite questions: What three albums have influenced you and your music? His responses are below.
Nocturnes is available here: https://ffm.to/bbnocturnes
Ólafur Arnalds – Fyrsta (Released in 2011)
Ólafur Arnalds, ‘Fyrsta’, from the album Living Room Songs is a piece of music I have revisited through the years, it continues to evolve along with time. At first glance it is deceptively simple, one might think “I could play this.”, “I could write this.” and yet so very few have produced a recording as brilliant as ‘Fyrsta’. But why? Why does this composition work so well? Upon it’s dissection, the main feature, the piano, is a slowly lilting descending arpeggio. For the first minute, a piano solo, mood and melody perfect violins slowly enter after a minute, after another minute a gorgeous cello adds frequencies to the lower register, the build lasts for another minute and as quickly as it began the flock slowly disassembles into a beautifully slow disappearance for the last minute with a brittle violin and the living room piano, alone again. On the surface this is a simple work of art, the technical execution of the parts and recording are relatively straightforward, could be a six to eight track recording, whereas a typical modern electronic production would have thirty to sixty tracks on average. But where I believe this record becomes enduring and transcendent was in the decision making process before the song was even played or recorded. Living Room Songs captures a sensation of nostalgia that is beyond the sum of its parts. The clicking and clacking piano hammers are analogous to film grain on photographs. The physical space where the track was recorded was intimate and the connection with the souls in the room at the time of transmission translates directly into the recording. The tone of the piano is one of my favorites, in my opinion only on his record re:member, particularly the track ‘saman’, does the piano tone compare to ‘Frysta’, like a first love.
Nils Frahm – Spaces (Released in 2013)
Nils Frahm, Spaces. There was a period of time where this was the only record I listened to. Spaces is like a perfectly composed accidental photograph. A moment where the light and subject were suddenly aware of the eternal. This collection of live performances is almost unbelievable, the nuance, texture, and melodies are mystifyingly exquisite. If you follow along closely, let your mind and spirit relax, disappear into a trance-like state, the narrator (Nils) will guide you through an energetic journey through stellar landscapes, abandoned victorian mansions, unseen exotic ocean beaches, timeless forests, encounters with unknown species. The point at which Nils’ consciousness enters the manifest is subtle, like an adept filmmaker that uses their knowledge of physics and subconscious truth to capture an audience. Am I listening to a musician? Or a shaman that uses musical instruments as the medium for this time and age? Any self effacing artist will assure you ‘I am only playing music’ ‘Music is a mirror for which you see yourself’ and any number of well intended platitudes. However, anyone capable of creating ‘Went Missing’ and ‘Over There, It’s Raining’, nothing is as it seems. I remember the season (Thanksgiving-Christmas holidays of 2013) I discovered this record, sharing it with friends and family, in ecstatic conversation of its brilliance. It’s taken me almost seven years to begin to understand what’s happening in this record, the layers continue to unfold, unzipping like a folder of immaculately architected information.
Jon Hopkins – Immunity (Released in 2013)
Jon Hopkins, Immunity. An absolute juggernaut. Immunity remains almost entirely beyond my comprehension, it is a record of finely controlled chaos and sublime acoustic piano, a work that fits in no category, something entirely original in an age of cheap replicas and quick content, a true masterpiece of whose existence I adore. The craftsmanship goes above and beyond any requirement, beyond any conventional standard, the meticulous construction of this record is outside of time, timeless in nature, there is no defined path that leads to work of this dimension, only something zen-like, nameless, connected to all the stars above us and all the atoms below, will result in compositions such as these. ‘Abandon Window’ is something from another world, the work of something that has traveled far within and found a secret room, like a well documented alien encounter. I remember reading an interview Hopkins gave about ‘Abandon Window’ and he said it was about the moment the soul leaves the body and I thought that was such a profound perspective from which to create. Internalizing his philosophy this made me want to create more resonant art, more viscerally peaceful post-modern neoclassical works. His ideas dawned upon me in a realization that there is an incredible amount of space to grow as an artist constantly facing the feeling of impending plateau. I would love to see how he made some of these sounds because I have no idea how most of it was made. The rhythmic glitches that propel tracks like ‘We Disappear’, are some of the most combustive percussive recordings I’ve ever heard. Generally, organic percussion is like a gold standard in electronic tracks, but Hopkins found a way to create even more elegant sonic shapes through his extensive iteration process, mangling, remangling, reverbing, using compressors like instruments, sampling samples ad infinitum, a sublime palimpsest of abstractions.
Wouldn’t it be fascinating if the creation of this record, Immunity, unlocked or will unlock a part of consciousness that corresponds to the discovery of something that improves our human immunity?