Published Feb 20, 2010Given Unfamiliar Records' staggering success in the last 12 months, expectations are fairly high for the debut full-length from label co-head Edo Van Breemen's band Brasstronaut. Although much of their instrumentation (keyboard, trumpet, clarinet, stand-up bass) suggests an indie rock jazz group, the sextet are a pop band with experimental tendencies that have more in common with fellow Vancouver piano poppers the Zolas than anything on Drip Audio. Opener "Slow Knots" picks up where the band's Old World Lies EP left off while tightening the songwriting and branching out musically, particularly on the bridge. A melancholy tone pervades the album, but only on "Hand Behind" does it threaten to drag down the songs. The album peaks with "Hearts Trompet," an absolutely beautiful number that starts out with a nice bass groove before building into a revelatory wall of strings that would make Sigur Rós jealous. Van Breemen's vocal range is, at times, a bit limited, given the group's musical dexterity, but he keeps the melodies firmly within his abilities. The band took a couple kicks at the can at recording what ultimately became Mt. Chimaera, pushing back its release date several times. Thankfully, their perfectionism paid off.
You spent a long time recording, re-recording and remixing these tracks. What was the hold up?
Breemen: We started writing these songs before our residency at the Banff Centre. Songs were being worked out throughout 2008. Some of them were written up there. We kind of thought that something would happen there and we'd have an album ready. But there's really not a lot of direction there; you're just sort of left to your own devices. We came out of that and we weren't really thinking of the end result, in terms of a recording. When we started getting the mixes back they didn't sound right because we had been developing on the road as well. We realized this was not something that we wanted to put out.
What was the turning point?
Between August and September  there was this really murky period. It was bad. Then we went to Iceland to play Iceland Airwaves, where we met Shain Shapiro, who works for CIMA [Canadian Independent Musician's Association]. He said, "I want to help you guys out in Europe, but you've got to get me an album before December." So between October 20 and November 25, we tracked two songs, overdubbed everything on the album and everything was remixed. (Unfamiliar)