By: Sam Haw
While instrumental music has maintained popularity for centuries, this millennium has not been as kind. Without a singer as the primary focus, instrumental music often challenges modern listeners beyond their comfort level. Even the catchiest of melodies is ignored without lyrics to complement it. Greensboro act, The Bronzed Chorus, have faced these obstacles for over a decade, yet have overcome them to become one of the Triad’s most promising groups.
On Oct. 27, The Bronzed Chorus released a new EP, titled “Yearling.” Featured are two new tracks, “I am the Ram” and “45 Horses,” as well as remixes by Treee City, .darklove, Quilla and Rocky Rosga. “Yearling” serves as a satisfying follow up to last year’s full-length album, “Summering.”
Formed in 2005, The Bronzed Chorus consists of Adam Joyce on guitar and Hunter Allen on drums, with both of them playing synthesizers. The duo’s experimental sound blends electronic and post-rock influences into energetic sonic landscapes, reminiscent of old video games.
“I just love tones and tonalities,” Joyce said. “That’s our thing, finding the right, weird sound that we’ve never heard before. It’s just like any of the old ‘70s or ‘80s prog-rock bands that are into the gear.”
These progressive rock influences shine through in the newest compositions. The two tracks, structured with valleys and peaks, each takes the listener on a journey. To arrange in this manner, the duo has to be meticulous in their songwriting process.
“We write naturally,” Joyce said. “We’ll sit and play together, run through some parts, try to feel it out. Hunter has to listen a lot before he wants to settle in on a drum part. He always wants to do something different with the drums.”
This is apparent on the opening track, “I am the Ram.” After a short introduction of the main motif, Allen rapidly beats his drums, later smoothing out into a laid-back groove. The song’s energy is driven by Allen’s drumming, allowing for moments of tranquility as well as an excellent build up to a climax.
The second track, “45 Horses,” plays with similar ideas. The synths build into a wall of sound until a jarring drop occurs midway through the track. The drums re-enter and take the song in a completely new, and more aggressive direction.
With another album just released a little over a year ago, the band could’ve spent more time working on another full length. Instead, they chose the shorter format, which shows off their progress without oversaturating their discography.
“I think we just wanted to get that old record off our chest a little bit,” Joyce said. “We’re always trying to work our way up with gear and the experience. Just make it better every time.”
The additional remixes on the record show the adaptability of the two tracks, as well as the remix artist’s ability to reinterpret a piece.
“We just wanted to do something different for the digital side of the release, offer a little something extra, since we’re only doing two songs,” Joyce said.
Durham producer, Treee City, transforms “I am the Ram” into an airy, laid-back beat that kicks it up a notch with hip-hop drums and percussive tapping. Previous Greensboro resident, .darklove, gave “45 Horses” a dub-inspired remix, creating a more tropical mood than the original. Quilla, also a Greensboro resident, takes a more upbeat approach on “I am the Ram” turn it into the danciest form of the track on the EP.
The only remix that falls flat is Rocky Rosga’s, who happens to be the only out of state producer on the record. Rosga takes fewer risks than the others, making only minor changes to the original composition. The sonic pallet of the original is swapped, sure, but some structural, rhythmic, or chordal changes could have made for a much more effective re-interpretation.
To celebrate the release of “Yearling,” The Bronzed Chorus performed in Greensboro at On Pop Of The World Studios on Oct. 28, alongside Quilla, Night Idea and Irata.
Randy Seals, owner of On Pop Of The World, praised the release party as one of his favorite shows of the year.
“It was a magical explosion of energy,” Seals said.
Before the show at On Pop, the duo spent the better part of October on tour, making stops in Richmond, Virginia; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Chicago, Illinois; Louisville, Kentucky; and Raleigh, North Carolina, for the State Fair.
“The tour ended up going pretty great,” Joyce said. “I got sick for a while, which kind of put the band on the back burner for a minute. But we’re trying to tour a lot more. Last year we did 32 dates, touring to the midwest and back.”
The full digital copy of “Yearling” is available on the duo’s Bandcamp page for $6. A 7-inch vinyl copy of the first two tracks is available for $5 through Gigantic Noise, a Chicago based record label.
Sam Haw is the general manager of WUAG and a local music producer.