A darkness lingers in the electronics
The stuttering hi-hats, bubbling synths and cascading keyboards all made for something beautiful, but tinged, at all moments, with an abyssal sorrow. Canadian trio Braids set out to explore the warped worlds of Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada through their own rock background and crafted the gorgeous Flourish // Perish. But being locked up in a harsh Montreal winter and exorcizing Raphaelle Standell-Preston’s struggles with anxiety, gift the album a placid, entrancing surface with an ocean’s worth of unrest below. So listen to our interview with Braids, read our thoughts on its centerpiece “In Kind” and see why it was one of the best of the 10s.
“Lost my conscious in quotations/ Say just what they want me to.”
Flourish // Perish is an album of battling, burbling voices. A thousand of them seem to fly from the rafters, invading Raphaelle Standell-Preston’s thoughts and voice and every inch of Taylor Smith’s wonked electronics and Austin Tufts’ clattering drums. There are moments of clarity, moments of insanity, then “In Kind” which reaches a miraculous equilibrium between the two. Split into three parts over nearly eight minutes, the closing track is undoubtably the most ambitious and holds all the anxious weight of the rest of the album, using it as a propulsive momentum. The opening segment is a calming meditation, soon unspooling into a churning mash of drums and cooed vocals.
That’s all before Tufts decides to just go bananas on the drums, rushing everything forward, forcing the song to break from its cozy cocoon into ever more beautiful, thrilling, hostile territories. Standell-Preston’s vocal gymnastics become incomprehensible, leading to a full screaming match with herself. “In Kind” stands on its own as a progressive feat of electronic and analogue fusion, but with a full album’s worth of struggle, those last screams she leaves us with are transcendent, freely inviting tears and ascension.