Poetry old and poetry new – entwined.
Singer, songwriter and producer Brudini has certainly had a bumpy ride on his way towards ‘From Darkness, Light’. The album has been in the making and waiting for several years and during that time, Brudini became a father, lost his business, gained a record deal and lost his love. Yet, as this album showcases brilliantly, you can emerge from a dark tunnel with a fresh perspective and a new strength.
‘From Darkness, Light’ is a poetic and cinematic experience and this sees the album split into two very distinct musical themes that Brudini flips between. The first type of track is the Brudini song. Mixing together creaky piano, a variety of guitars, folksy percussion, jazzy bass and a horror movies soundboard of effects, the overall sound is a really curious mix. If Kate Bush made a psychological thriller soundtrack that would be voiced by old crooners. There is something very timeless and black and white to the sound but everything about it screams ‘I’m an alternative artist’ at the same time. I absolutely love it.
The beauty is that Brudini understands when less is more. Single ‘Reflections’ works so perfectly because the old battered piano comes and goes, letting his voice and the crunchy bass and guitar effects slowly cast a shadow over the track. ‘Nightcrawler’ follows a similar vein, using a mellotron styled synth to make you feel that b-movie danger in the middle of a striding alt-folk piece. Each track has the insides of a piano hammer or guitar wire making unsettling noises too just adding to that unusual vibe.
Elsewhere, Brudini reminds me a little of acoustic PJ Harvey, Rufus Wainwright, Ani DeFranco and other rock greats. ‘Emotional Outlaw’ is a wild rodeo of rolling drums, guzzling guitars threatening to break free and thick organs backing up the funky double bass. Its both cinematic and psychedelic. The trumpet and Spanish flair on ‘Pale Gold’ meshes with more Arabian themes and chords and the track feels like a triumphant snake charmer piece. A happier ‘Trust In Me’ if you will. When you look at the album lyrically, there is a lot of placing trust in a better tomorrow. There is a lot of realisations that you break free of other entrapments and drag yourself to the altar of success, whatever that may be.
The second element sees five tracks include Chip Martin, a Californian writer who provides poetry readings. Chip reads out confidently with wisdom and weariness in his voice. He thankfully doesn’t read completely in monotone poetry style and gives a cadence and pause in the perfect places. Brudini provides various different musical backdrops for these tracks. ‘Female Rimbaud’ has an evocative, dusty American guitar twang. ‘Hunger’ sounds like it is about to score a cyberpunk 80’s film, whilst opener ‘Roselight’ is a beautiful piano-based theme. ‘God Unknown’ is a beautiful interlude that is straight out of the Kate Bush book of quirk.
The way these two elements interplay back and forth is fascinating as it tells you a story of someone realising that perfection or a perfect life can be what you want it to be – not the things people can put on a tick list. This comes to the fore with the perfect entry point for Brudini, ‘Radiant Man’ where he sings ‘I watch you dissolve – you can’t outrun the light’. It feels like he is singing about his previous life going up in flames and yet it is triumphant. At the same time, it could be watching a lover leave too – and that’s the beauty of ambiguous lyrics done right.
The album closes with two key tracks. ‘Everything is Movement’ is a cleverly constructed track that sounds like a wheel cog of music coming to life. As the track continues more instruments join, the speed increases and Brudini’s voice switches from sounding utterly exhausted to full of energy and power. It is one of the cleverest tracks I’ve enjoyed this year. It is also the albums nadir as musically, everything breaks free and hits clarity. The token ballad ‘Boulevards’ closes out the album beautifully with a heartfelt guitar, synth and vocal track. If you like Leonard Cohen, you are at home here.
Brudini reminds me of artists like Joe Jackson, singing with a voice like Leonard Cohen, channelling Tori Amos, PJ Harvey and Nick Cave. There is a dark mystical and cinematic quality to the entire album and it is deeply poetic and personal. Yet, be it from his distinctive voice and refusal for any vocal corrections, there is a vulnerable honesty and timeless quality to the art too. Albums like this simply don’t come along very often. ‘From Darkness, Light’ is easily one of the best albums of 2020. It is something truly special indeed.
Recommended track: Reflections
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