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  • Jonathan Widran


It’s likely that you’ve never heard of either Brookhaven or Scatter Swept, the two Oakland based, electric guitar heavy bands who join forces to create something of a hypnotic shoegazing masterpiece in Modern Remains. So let this fascinating, mostly instrumental journey full of sly seductively melodies, dark brooding moods, blistering licks and wild, cathartic exultations be a primer on both entities.

Brookhaven’s got the longer history, with guitarist Sonny James collaborating over the years with other locals since the early 2000s. Launched in 2017, Scatter Swept features the unique combined talents of Ryohei Hinokuma (guitar, bass), Matt Holt (guitar, bass) and Patricia Kavanaugh (drums, guitar, voice). All three members of Scatter Swept were once part of James’ band. Understanding that deeper long term connection helps us understand the natural chemistry and effortless expressions that comes across on every track.

With its dark, jangling lead guitar simmering throughout, the slow building opening track (and first single) “Sawtell” feels almost like a cool, experimental (and finally, explosive) outtake from Nirvana’s “No Apologies.” Although the scorching, often dissonant guitars come to dominate, the emotional core of “Already Moving Away” is the dual energy Kavanaugh offers via her easy flowing, then intensely energetic drumming and floating, ethereal lead vocal.

Though her vocals also grace the mostly dreamy closer “Until I Learn Your Name Again,” the collection is mostly instrumental – and without the focal centerpiece of her voice to rise above the waves of murky darkness and din, there’s a certain sameness to the tracks. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you listen as a singular meditative rock experience a la Dark Side of the Moon. And every so often, as on the dual mood minded “No Focus,” they throw a fiery curveball to snap the hypnotic trance.

The fascinating hybrid band offers a potential clue to their creative intention with the title of the deeply atmospheric “I Write for No One.” By composing tunes primarily for their own enjoyment and emotional expression, they ensure that other kindred spirits will vibe along on the same wavelength. Here’s hoping the collaboration continues…

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