We Know About the Need

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Chris Adams, one of the driving forces behind the English band Hood, wanted an outlet for his more glitch- and dubstep-oriented leanings, and so, while the group was on hiatus, he went into his studio alone and began recording as Bracken. What he ultimately ended up with, however, was quite similar to what Hood had been exploring on Cold House and Outside Closer: forlorn indie electronica that stretches and glides and contorts across dark, post-rock landscapes. With Bracken, though, Adams all but eliminates any sort of live-sounding instrumentation (there are guest drummers on "Safe Safe Safe" and "Four Thousand Style"), relying more on his computer to filter and twist his keys, guitars, and horns. Yet even with all of this mechanical involvement We Know About the Need has an almost organic, even bucolic feel to it, with warm, melodic layers that run through one another sadly and easily. The tracks on the album have a slowness to them, despite the drums that move -- occasionally haphazardly -- through, so on a song like "Fight or Flight," which ostensibly demands a choice, there's such a deliberate melancholy there that it seems Adams has instead decided to just give up and watch what happens, become a spectator in his own life. It's sad, yes, but We Know About the Need isn't a wholely depressing record. There's lightness and contentment in the scalar keyboard lines and harmonies used alongside the profound resignation, that bubbles out in the stuttering beats and droning chords, in Adams' thin vocals (which, no matter how many times he layers them, will never sound more than desperate, and are hardly ever decipherable) and the wax and wane of the loops. It's all very beautiful, but it's purposeful, too, both asking of and giving to its listeners. Bracken makes thoughtful, reflective music, like Brian Eno, or even fellow anticon labelmates Alias or cLOUDDEAD, music that refuses to sit entirely still, that attempts to convey the broad range of human emotion in the details of its composition, and, in the end, succeeds.

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