Today Briars of North America shares “Seventh Brew,” the second single from its new album, Supermoon (out on Brassland on June 18). The first single, “Sala,” sung in a language of the band’s invention, was recently featured on NPR’s All Songs Considered. You can pre-order the album here and watch the video here.
Here’s some background on “Seventh Brew” from the band:
“The life of a song is a curious one. This began as an improvisation that Greg started on the bass and I was singing along trying to follow an elusive melody just out of reach. It felt like I was grasping for wisps of a cloud. We called it Seventh Brew at the time because we had been drinking copious amounts of pu-erh tea Jeremy had brought back from his most recent trip to China. Later, I was tasked with writing words for it, while spring was in full bloom. I sat on the back porch of a Quaker meeting house in Plainfield, Vermont watching the grass grow and leaves dance in the wind, while pondering divinity in all things and my quest for meaning. It was a Quaker meeting between me and all of nature. The words came quickly, and listening back, I realize it was a plea to find my own peace. In the very beginning of the song you hear a sample of a piece I recorded many years earlier about a vision I’d had on a sunny afternoon of a dying angel in the hayfield across from the home I grew up in.”
Briars of North America work at their own pace, with release plans guided more by equinoxes and solstices than any conventional music industry wisdom. The core trio includes two long lost cousins and a friend. Their new album Supermoon exists at the crossroads of ambient, indie and so-called new music — delivered with the precision of chamber music, the emotional transparency of folk, and the weight of ritual. It’s the band’s first release on the Brassland label and will be released on June 18.
Jeremy and Gideon first began making music together as Briars of North America in 2009 (a sister band to the Thistles of North America, which never made it out of the aughts). Greg Chudzik entered the Briars orbit soon after. A first-call classical and new music bassist, Greg is also a member of the Signal and Talea ensembles and has collaborated with influential contemporary music composers such as Steve Reich and Pierre Boulez and independent-minded outsiders such as Dan Deacon and Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood.
Jeremy and Gideon have also worked in an intriguingly diverse range of settings, often with historically significant collaborators. Hailing from the hills of Vermont’s Northeast
Kingdom, Gideon is a student of traditional and ancient forms of singing from places such as the Caucasus, the Mediterranean, and the rural US. He has performed as part of the Bread and Puppet Theater, and recently became a company member with downtown legend Meredith Monk.
From the swamplands of south-central Wisconsin, Jeremy’s background mixes training in classical French horn and experience playing with some of the heavyweights of American indie rock. He played on The National’s now-classic album High Violet, and was the sole new member of Neutral Milk Hotel when they reformed between 2013-15 — famously playing the bagpipe solo on “untitled” which brought down the house down during each night’s encore. Briars of North America made their big-stage debut while serving as the opening act for a week of Jeff Mangum’s solo tour dates in 2013.
“I play music because it draws together all the disintegrating strands of life into something palatable, comprehensible, moving,” says Jeremy. “Music conjures the spirit behind both suffering and joy and holds it for a second, a unique singularity in an expanding cosmos. Plus, it’s a good way to spend time and communicate with people. If we can get people to dance or cry, it feels like we’ve been in deep conversation, even if we would have nothing to say to each other in normal life. We aspire to create music that exists in a ceremonial space, where emotions crystallize and structures like time and emotion become malleable.“