Together Festival: Breton at Great Scott, Allston, MA | May 15th, 2014
May
2014
15

TOGETHER FESTIVAL: WAR ROOM STORIES TOUR w/ BRETON



  • Date:Thursday, May 15, 2014
  • Venue:Great Scott
  • Address:1222 Commonwealth Ave, Allston, MA 02134
  • Age:18+
  • Artists: Breton, Kid Karate
    Promoters: Bowery Boston, Together Festival
  • Time:08:30 pm

Use code “MASSEDMC” at checkout for 10% off Together Festival passes: http://bit.ly/togetherpasses

 

Together Boston is an annual celebration of music, art and technology, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The festival was first held in February, 2010, with continually broadening scope of musical genres as well as a thorough exploration of the art and technology sectors.

Through a week-long series of educational and professional discussion panels, art installations, film screenings, and musical performances at venues around the Boston/Cambridge area, Together Boston attracts tens of thousands each May. Although historically based in Boston, the festival has found its footing across the Charles River in Central Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts and expects to be working closely with Cambridge City Hall in 2013.

In 2012, Together hosted musical artists such as Photek, RJD2, Mala,Todd Edwards, Dillon Francis, Nero, Phill Niblock, 6th Borough Project and more, while hosting film screenings for the Chemical Brothers movie Don’t Think, as well as the Electric Daisy Carnival documentary.

 

BRETON

“It’s lame to talk about the responsibility of an artist, but really, saying ‘listen to 40 minutes of my thoughts’ means that you should put your life and soul into it…”

When Breton first emerged from their south London, all-purpose base – dubbed BretonLabs – with a series of EPs and last year’s full-length debut ‘Other People’s Problems’, their intensely creative, multi-disciplinary approach rendered them difficult to pigeonhole. A band who made films on the side? Filmmakers and visual artists with a fully-realised soundtrack? A ‘collective’? But sod the pigeonholing. Because all you really need to know to understand Breton is contained in singer and chief songwriter Roman Rappak’s impassioned assertions above. Breton, completed by Adam Ainger, Ian Patterson, Ryan McClarnon and Daniel McIlvenny, are simply a band that put their life and soul into every little detail of ‘it’.

After their inception Breton quickly established themselves as not only musicians, but a team of artists interested in all realms of the creative process. Having produced a series of their own short films with the gritty, uncensored aesthetic of their locality, a selection of video and sound design work for the likes of The Temper Trap, Penguin Prison and Tricky followed, as well as remixes for Local Natives, Alt J and Lana Del Rey. Breton’s three early releases (2010’s ‘Sharing Notes’ and ‘Practical’ EPs and 2011’s ‘Counter Balance’ EP), meanwhile, slowly began to flesh out their own musical direction.

Initially performing live largely because it was more practical to project their film work behind them at readily-available gig venues than to find traditional, less available media spaces, it soon became clear that the band were developing a musical following in their own right. A further EP – 2012’s ‘Blanket Rule’ – began to pique interest on a wider scale, with early support coming from The Guardian, Xfm and NME, while ‘Other People’s Problems’ (recorded in the Labs and released in March 2012) garnered widespread critical acclaim, cementing the band as one of the year’s most exciting breakthrough acts. NME declared the record to be “casually brilliant” and “vital”, remarking that the album’s wealth of ideas hinted that the band “have barely scratched the surface of what they want to, and what they can, achieve.” BBC Music, meanwhile, praised the record for possessing “mass appeal on its own terms”, while Clash labeled the band “agitators of sound”.

Following a year spent touring incessantly and playing festivals across the world, Breton then retreated in early 2013 to create their second long player ‘War Room Stories’ – written over the course of the last year and recorded this summer in an abandoned broadcasting building called the Funkhaus in the grimmer side of Berlin.

“We found out the Lab was gonna get destroyed so we were a bit fucking baffled as to what to do. But then we thought, well what was it about that place that we liked?” Rappak explains of the album’s unexpected choice of birthplace. “And it was this otherworldly weirdness, which I think came from closing yourself off. So we found this place in Berlin, put everything we owned into a van and went.” And, despite being born initially out of necessity, the location proved an inspiringly fertile creative ground.

Located in the highly industrial, distinctly un-hipster Mitte district of the city, populated by little-to-no musicians save for a host of local characters (including a Bermuda shorts-toting classical pianist and a white Rastafarian in possession of a life-size model UFO) and fitted with all the trappings of a former sound effects studio, the Funkhaus proved perfect for Breton’s innate inquisitiveness. The final seconds of album closer ’15 Minutes’ are sampled sounds from a particularly overgrown part of the building home to various insects and wildlife. Numerous other subtleties throughout the record’s ten tracks, meanwhile, are taken from snatches of conversations or specially-created effects from the building’s myriad of resources.

‘War Room Stories’ is also notable for featuring a more ‘open door’ policy with regards to collaborators than ever before. ‘Closed Category’ structures itself around excerpts of conversation from a friend of the band, John Bloss. “He’s a peace activist, an ex-junkie and an all-round incredible story teller,” Roman explains. “One of those people who’s almost got too much charisma, who are almost cursed with being so fascinating that they never end up doing anything even though everything about them is magical and hypnotic.” ‘Search Parties’, meanwhile, features guest vocals from Sam Lynham of 90s post-punk influencers Gramme, while ‘Brothers’ employs an R’n’B vocal choir and live string sections pepper throughout the record.

Elsewhere, Breton’s own genre-splicing tendencies take root in increasingly more skilled and nuanced ways. Opener ‘Envy’ is perhaps the group’s most outright ‘pop’ track to date, whereas first single ‘Got Well Soon’ fuses glitchy synths with an undulating backbone beat and ‘Brother’’s echo-laden pianos are at once epic and understatedly restrained. Traces of hip hop, electronica, indie and all the plethora of genres in between interplay under tracks that are, at face value, still surprisingly accessible.

This same duality applies to the visual side of ‘War Room Stories’ which the band, as ever, have given close thought to. The decadently drenched butterfly that adorns the record sleeve, alongside the painted toy depicted on ‘Got Well Soon’ are both from a collection of found objects collected throughout the group’s travels and subsequently adapted. “The fact that it’s a butterfly which is really beautiful, but then it’s dead and it’s had this really glamorous, sickly, gorgeous nail varnish poured on it – it’s like everything good and everything bad and everything exciting and everything depressing all at once,” Rappak enthuses. “And I think that’s what this record is. It’s not a simple thing, and neither is a drowning, dead butterfly in tacky nail varnish. It’s an argument within itself.”

Constantly challenging and pushing against the boundaries of what it means to be in a band in 2013, ‘War Room Stories’ is the second chapter of a group who aren’t afraid to stick their neck on the line and think about things a little differently.

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