Brion Starr releases debut album Global Identity
In 2019 some of the world’s major cities are looking more and more like the dystopian depictions of the future found in films like Blade Runner or the Fifth Element. Brion Starr and his band are the soundtrack to this new reality.
With his debut album, Brion Starr embraces not just the dual identity that many associates with but the idea of global identity and offers a track-list suited to the postmodern landscape in which we find ourselves in. Appropriately Starr has titled his 12-song release Global Identity because while he might be in the ever-evolving megapolis of New York, there isn’t a place he truly considers home. Arguably with the growing interconnectedness on a global scale, many individuals may find themselves in the same position, not feeling as though their identity can be fixed to any one location. Starr’s international travel since he was young has allowed him to cross the boundaries of culture multiple times over and allow a few different places build the identity that he has now.
In saying this, the album certainly leans very heavily on the past subcultures of both New York and London, where Starr frequents a lot. But this may have had a little help by Konk Studios where the album was recorded and was once home to The Kinks, a childhood love of Brion himself. However, while the album is undoubtedly inspired by major figures in the punk and post-punk scenes in London, such as Bowie and The Clash, the key overtone which rides the soundwaves of every song on the album is a no-wave sound which originates from 70s New York.
Bringing a fresh revived take on the no-wave ancestry sound first made by musicians such as Sonic Youth and Suicide, the album is full of experimental tunes built on the mixing of genres and musicians. This is then layered with Brion’s archetypal punk vocalism which is almost reminiscent of Lou Reed or English punk luminaries. With such an interesting hybrid of styles, Global Identity sounds like the result of David Bowie, Talking Heads and Velvet Underground walking into a bar…
Starting the album with tracks ‘The Real Thing’, ‘Strange Orientation’ and newest single ‘The Heart Is A Loaded Gun’, Brion lays the foundations for an album that is heavily textured by multiple instruments and styles. With funky riffs, bass overtones and a nice bit of piano in there, the opening tracks are menageries of rhythms rich in post-punk motifs but dressed in glam rock uniform. It is also an introduction to the collaborative disciplines which have transcended from his last band Noh Starrs, that sees not only former bandmates Robbie Wood and Lida Fox but their experimentation with the grey areas between rock and pop once again resurging.
As the album continues, the listener is met with more avant-garde numbers that really give way for the weirder side of the album to shine through. Tracks such as ‘Here Come the Sunken’, ‘Come Eschaton’ and ’90 Dresden’ are fine examples of Starr’s dissection of the boundaries of music. From his use disconcerting synths, droning keys, samples of conversation (including a baby crying) to perhaps even some harp, this section of the album reads more as being influenced by the dystopian terrain we often find ourselves in in the 21st century; that “sanctuary city” that is far from the “perfect” shell it hides in. At this moment you can easily imagine Starr being at home in Kathy Acker’s New York where underground artists would play with the fine lines of the genre away from adulterating eyes of the mainstream.
The penultimate track on the album ‘Oh Please’ is fully-fledged rock ‘n roll song, with heavy hooks and 70s psyche vocals, before ‘Dream Cream’ ends the album with an Avant-angelic sensation. Filling the ears of its listener with ambient noise and gentle harp -which grows in intensity with the song – the final track leaves you with the feeling of tranquillity as a person of the world and not just one fixed place, just as the album explores. It’s as if Starr is letting go of your hand after the tour of his mind and the world he’s just taken you on, bringing you back to your own reality. It’s an interesting journey that the album walks you through, but one which you come out of content with its content.
While Brion Starr may not be as well-known over on this side of the pond as he is with members of the current cool New York scene who regularly haunt venues such as Baby’s All Right and the Mercury Lounge he’s certainly planning on making his mark with this new album. Exciting, experimental and elaborately dressed Brion Starr has made a beautiful cocktail of fun which exudes from his music.
The album is out on 3rd May for your listening pleasure:
Check Brion Starr out here: https://www.facebook.com/brionstarr/
Words By Aimee Williams-Maynard