BRONSON embark on a poignant odyssey with debut LP [Review]
BRONSON’s eponymous debut album is a maze of sound, brimming with contradictions. It is expected but not predictable, surprising but not shocking, sonically diverse but not disjointed. The album’s 10 tracks draw a distinct arc, telling a story that affirms the range of emotions they kindle while also providing an escape from them.
Three-years in the making, the collaborative project between Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight of ODESZA and Thomas George Stell of Golden Features flows as organically as the impetus behind their partnership. The three producers began working together across continents—ODESZA is based in the United States and Golden Features in Australia—somewhat on a whim, stating that in the beginning, they “had no specific objective or goal in mind.”
This natural, free-flowing motivation has tied itself to each of BRONSON’s tracks. The album is woven together with echoes of ODESZA’s classic ethereal sound, which blends with Golden Features’ trademark distorted, pulsing beats, ultimately morphing into something with a signature that is not quite as easy to isolate. BRONSON twists and turns, lulling the listener into a dreamlike haze with tracks like “CALL OUT” and “KNOW ME” before pivoting, seemingly rounding a corner and driving straight into a wall with the hard-hitting techno-esque beat featured on “CONTACT.”
The synergy behind BRONSON is palpable, and rightfully so. Though the team has collaborated only once before—on a VIP remix of ODESZA’s “Memories That Call You”—Golden Features also released his 2016 single, “Wolfie,” on ODESZA’s label, Foreign Family Collective. Both parties attribute the eventual creation of BRONSON to mutual respect and admiration for one another that had been burgeoning for years. BRONSON brings together their distinct styles, resulting in a multitudinous and emotive musical collection that defies classification.
As much as the album zigzags between genres, creating divergent tracks that convey a plethora of different emotions, the purpose behind BRONSON shines through in each song. This deliberate attention to theme turns the LP into the most unlikely 10-part puzzle, with each piece nestling in just right.
In a statement released in April, BRONSON reflected on the meaning behind their music, stating,
“One of the core motifs behind BRONSON is perseverance through struggle. While we were writing and recording the album, we all related to this in our own personal ways, whether that be internal, or otherwise. We also saw that same theme on a larger scale in the world around us. It’s even more true today.”
From beginning to end, BRONSON winds itself around this central idea. From the strain and pull of “TENSE” to the tranquility conjured in “BLINE,” the LP is a sonic rendering of a deeply affecting internal odyssey.
“DAWN,” a sprawling seven-minute opus featuring Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, wraps up the LP, acting as a sort of montage of the album. A formidable and inclusive finale, “DAWN” draws together and ties up the emotions that each succeeding song brought to the surface. For every emotion the album draws out, BRONSON also provides reprieve. But as much as the album soothes, it also reminds us that it’s okay to feel in the first place.
Featured image: Gian Galang