Vertical Chamber Apparatus

…BRUME – ‘Donkey’


On their debut album, Donkey, San Francisco three-piece Brume summon a dense, often impenetrable fog of distortion and rhythmic battery—the only respite from the enveloping miasma being the occasional atmospheric break and the seraphic vocals of bassist Susie McMullen. With Brume it’s all about the riff and each track is a perpetual cascade of hazy and inescapable riffs. 

Though the band is following a well-worn path their greatest attribute, other than the larger-than-life guitar tone, is centered on vocalist/bassist McMullen. While the vocals are slightly buried in the mix her voice remains a luminous beam of solace in an otherwise suffocatingly heavy storm and, at times, recall the vocals of shoegaze/noise act Medicine’s Beth Thompson, particularly on “Shadows” and “Win.” 
“Help Me,” the album’s third track, is not only the catchiest track of the collection, but it also best showcases McMullen’s vocal talents. While her vocals often reach angelic heights, they also are delivered with an unparalleled force compared to anything else on the album.

Not content to merely craft their own material, Brume pursue an unlikely detour by taking the melancholia folk of Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy’s “Even if Love” and taking it to its doomed-out conclusion. And it works. “Even if Love” lends itself well to Bume’s brand of downtrodden heaviness and is a welcome addition to the band’s own compositions and features some of the album’s strongest drumming.

Brume have made a powerful debut with Donkey and the trio should appeal to fans of other likeminded bands such as Windhand, Tombstones, and Chrch—acts who practice and have mastered the sludgey wall-of-sound aesthetics of narcotizing doom. Brume effectively and tastefully wield feedback in addition to well-placed wah pedal manipulation adding texture and depth to the tunes. Hopefully Donkey is just the beginning for this three-piece…

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Posted by Kuwa Slayne

Jordan Perkins-Lewis

San Francisco, CA