Years from now, Jahman Brahman fans will refer to … And The Storms That Swarm as the “quartet EP.” Recorded during the period when keyboardist Justin Loffer was on sabbatical (he’s now back), the five tracks on Swarm are the sound of a band hunkering down around the fire of their musical brotherhood and making it work. They might have been down a Brah for these sessions, but the vibe that lit up their debut album NewFields is still bright and growing.
Other than Loffer’s absence, how does Jahman Brahman’s sophomore recorded effort compare to their first outing? Well, more of the same, for one thing – which is a good thing … and proof that the lads knew who they were right from the beginning, rather than looking for a hook to hang their band on. Each track on … And The Storms That Swarm has a solid song at its core and the seamless jams that whirl around each of them pull off that same style of sonic shapeshifting that made NewFields so tasty.
“The Dawning” launches things off with a blend of sea breezy guitars (courtesy of Casey Chanatry and Justin Brown), take-yer-time surfbum funk rhythms (that would be drummer Rowdy Keelor and Justin’s brother Nathan Brown on bass), and vocals awash in waves of cool harmonies. At about the 2:20 mark, the tide begins to shift: Nathan Brown lays down some big, beautiful bass bubbles for a bit; Chanatry fires off a call-to-arms over some cymbal sizzles; and the band begins to air-dry themselves with a couple of minutes of swoops, dips, somersaults, curlicues, and glides. Just shy of the 5-minute mark, they hit some storm clouds on a Martian horizon, but Keelor helps them pound their way through to a safe landing. The change-ups never sound forced: after the surprises of an initial listen, they all feel like well-worn and comfy paths.
Other highlights include “The Others”: initial clean “Wharf Rat”-style guitar strums give way to a slow, tie-dyed waltz flavored with passages of guitar that combine violin sweetness with pedal steel-style heartache. Wisps of backing vocals drift through the verses; no studio trickery, just passages offered up for further consideration. The tune climbs on the shoulders of a stately guitar solo by Chanarty before returning to the quiet clearing that it started from.
You could easily imagine “Room Service” playing as the credits roll at the end of a movie where the hero doesn’t quite get the girl (maybe next time). The album’s closer, however, is “Boss”: a study of rhythm fury and guitar squall that goes as far out there as anything Jahman Brahman has captured in the studio so far.
… And The Storms That Swarm is officially an EP, but whatever it lacks in minutes it makes up for in depth. There are double albums out there that fail to cover this much territory.
Jahman Brahman is 2 for 2.