San Francisco, California band Brother Spellbinder cannot be categorised by any genre. That’s because they decided to not limit themselves so, choosing instead to focus on generating a feeling by reaching into any jar available to them to achieve their goal.
Throughout their seven-track EP, When The Earth Was Still Flat, released in October 2016, Gabriel Beistline (cello), Steve La Porta (drums and percussion), Jamie Wilson (guitar and vocals), Steve Bollhoefer (violin, mandolin) and Alzara Getz (vocals) bring together sounds inspired by cabaret, classical music, folk music, jazz, and even pop. The ensuing experience is gentle and sweet, soothing and light, an emotion-driven experience that will leave listeners relaxed way after the last note.
Getz’s vocals are thoughtful and emotion-laden at each turn, giving an extra layer of meaning to lyrics that are uniquely eloquent and very descriptive. The melodies are detailed yet delicate, and band members’ talent shines through as they each easily navigate through each twist and turn.
The elegant and relaxed “Speed of Sound” is rich and soothing and a great introduction to Getz’s emotive vocals. She gives a raspier delivery in “Follow Me” which remains, however, still light and even almost whimsical. A violin contributes to the overall richness of the sound. The way “Babel” is structured can remind listeners of a delicately unfurling flower, with the ukulele and the flute giving it a hopeful flavour.
While the entire EP feels intimate, the classically-inspired “Flicker” is particularly so thanks to the limited number of layers it is composed of. This allows for the spotlight to shine on the flute. There is something of a conversation between the vocals and the guitars, which come off almost as a second set of vocals. The tempo steadily increases, as if said conversation is reaching a tipping point – an elusive answer, a climax that will change everything.
The richness in “Madame” swirls around in dramatic fashion, evoking visuals that would fit well on a screen somewhere. “Josephine” is also intimate but in a much more laid-back manner than “Flicker”; where the latter is a touch dramatic, the former seems like a sunny Sunday morning conversation over coffee while wearing sweat pants.
The sweetness in When The Earth Was Still Flat seems to reflect the innocence that is touched upon throughout the set, as if it was written during a time when we believed in things that long have been disproved as nonsense. More information about the band and their music is available on their official website. Tracks are available for streaming on Bandcamp.