The Machine is burning and now everyone knows it could happen again — so the French orchestral post-rock group Bruit say in the title of their new full-length album, and wow: that musically expressed inferno is utterly transfixing.
Structurally speaking, Bruit’s compositions take their own path, immersively depicting moments of intense metaphysical unrest, as though trapped in a trance as smoke from a raging forest fire fills the area throughout the album’s runtime. Bruit mix pain with longing and hope on a grand scale, providing a sonic look at the feelings of watching our surroundings disassemble.
The melodies and general sonic ideas that flow across the group’s new album feel emotionally piercing, focusing the look on a personalized perspective of the catastrophe. The album’s particular dynamic flourishes help further this aspect of its journey — only two of the songs feature words, and across the record, instruments including a violin, cello, keys, clarinet, and bass trombone (in addition to others) make an appearance. The record is sonically enriching.
Generally, the music often proves surreally free-flowing, as though following along with shifting emotional states rather than rigid form.
Although Bruit utilize dramatically captivating dynamics, their underlying melodic ideas often feel quite directly powerful, and the thereby relatively unencumbered feel of the mix lends the experience a sense of solitude. Consistently, Bruit sound straightforwardly compelling. Immersing in the world of The Machine is burning… feels like (to build on the title) standing alone on a shadowy hillside and watching scenes of fiery chaos unfold in the distance across a city that you knew closely and once called home.
In this world, the horizon in the background seems poised to swallow up its surroundings thanks to the expansiveness of the often quite extended tones across this album, and in the broader perspective that this musical expanse provides, there’s a chance for hope. Not all has been lost. A new day could dawn — and indeed, Bruit often keep their compositions relatively forward-moving, turning the somberly strained urgency into something like a musical search for peace. The music’s forceful passion is elevating.
The songs carry an intense level of atmosphere, as though stepping through a fog into another world (that looks quite like our own) once hitting play, and the often thick, hazily swirling mixes help grow the emotional impact. “Amazing Old Tree,” which appears third on the four-track release, is largely ambiance-centered, allowing listeners to hone in upon a somber audio sample included on the song. On the track, Bruit feature a clip from a 2011 documentary called If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, explaining how trees that are hundreds of years old have been suddenly destroyed by the logging associated with economic expansion.
In a way, the entrancing yet at times undeniably anguished music seems to mirror the existential loss that the audio sample reflects. The fabric of our existence is endangered — the earth’s grandiose persistence, while continuing onward (for now), is threatened.
The album begins, in part, with a jaunty percussion rhythm alongside passionate strings on “Industry.” The song’s intensity steadily grows across its runtime, with an expanding mix including guitars that sport a relatively formidable tone. “Industry” ends on an extended passage centered on shimmering strings, and it’s moving, revealing an undercurrent of beauty that appears across the album.
On from there, “Renaissance” begins with flourishes including intricate acoustic guitars and more flowing strings, and as the music grows, its dynamic swings deliver existentially wrenching pangs of sorrow — but the song forges ahead, and tone-wise, much of the music remains somewhat breathable and bright. “The Machine Is Burning,” which closes the album, features a lush and majestically resounding haze.
There’s beauty in the struggle, because we live on. Bruit’s musical vivacity is powerful.
The Machine is burning and now everyone knows it could happen again is available via Elusive Sound.
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