Brazil - The Philosophy of Velocity (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


The Philosophy of Velocity (2006)


Brazil inflicted themselves with both a blessing and a curse by sounding so much like At the Drive-In with their first 2 releases, 2002's Dasein EP and 2004's A Hostage and the Meaning of Life. While aping one of if not the most revered post-hardcore bands of the late `90s, the band wasn't leaving much to the imagination, save for an often piano-dependent base that even then often likened them to that of ATDI's "Hourglass."

This could be why it's slightly amusing that Brazil's newest release seems to take a noticeable influence from an ATDI-related outfit: the Mars Volta. Departing from the label that once held ATDI themselves, the band's Immortal debut in The Philosophy of Velocity adds a gluttonous amount of progressive elements. To Brazil's credit, however, this doesn't necessarily mean they resort to self-indulgent, 10-minute jam sessions and needless classic rock prose (though their one Queen-referencing moment is pulled off interestingly). Instead, their offering provides swirling, spacey and layered guitars with grandiose keyboards on various settings. Tracks like "You Never Know" put frontman Jonathan Newby's high-pitched voice (honestly, similar to that of Cedric Bixler-Zavala's on any of the Volta's albums) with a mesh of instruments like such. "Candles (Cast Long Shadows)" further layers sounds, noise, and instruments, with dramatic piano-key strokes and plings of xylophone.

This is where producer Dave Fridmann's unique texture comes into play -- he buries Newby's voice in the mix slightly and adds an otherworldly effect to his already dizzying, high pitch while adding his own signature, strange tint to the overall focus of the sound like he has with his Flaming Lips albums and the recent Thursday effort. The only terms that would best describe it would be that of jargon often used at the site of the Hubble Space Telescope and NASA's control center.

The one aforementioned Queen reference does merit further mention, however. In the obviously tribute-like titled (and 6-minute-plus) "Au, Revoir, Mr. Mercury," Newby manages to replicate both Freddy Mercury's tone and the flawless rise in pitch Mercury made famous -- abrupt vocal melodies puncture the song precisely in its last 2 and a half minutes, with a moment-long round providing a familiar climax.

Once again, Brazil has made a record showing their influences terribly obvious, but no less made a bad record. Not only is there bound to be more than a handful of plain/boring moments in 48 minutes of prog/space rock, but it just seems like the band's ambition is inspired solely by others'; once they find their own, a great, original record could be their own.

Crime (and the Antique Solution)
Candles (Cast Long Shadows)