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Brijean - Macro LP


Ghostly International Records

"Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final."  - Rainer Maria Rilke, Go to the Limits of Your Longing  Since their debut as Brijean, the project of percussionist/singer-songwriter Brijean Murphy (the percussive heartbeat for live bands like Mitski, Poolside, and Toro y Moi) and multi-instrumentalist/producer Doug Stuart has moved with ingenuity, fusing psych-pop abstraction with dancefloor sensibilities. Through the body and mind, rhythm and lyricism, they make sense of the worlds around and within; 2021's Feelings celebrated self-reflection; 2022's Angelo processed loss, coinciding with the duo's first headlining tour, which doubled down on the material's desire to move. Now, across the playful expanse of Macro, arriving in 2024 on Ghostly International, Brijean engages different sides of themselves, the paradox of being alive. They've leveled up to meet the complexities and harmonies of the human experience with their most dynamic songwriting yet. Colorful, collaborative, sophisticated, and deeply fun, the album animates a macrocosm with characters, moods, and points of view rooted in the notion that no feeling is final and the only way out is through.  "Worlds of beauty and pain / I spy comedies in the most mundane," Murphy sings on "Euphoric Avenue," the rainbow road to Macro that expands Murphy and Stuart's shared sense for storytelling. One of the first tracks recorded in their home in Altadena on the outskirts of Los Angeles, "Euphoric Avenue" took shape on organ and drum machine, later welcoming live contributions from Stephanie Yu (strings), Logan Hone (flute), and Kosta Galanopoulos (drums). "Being in this beautiful part of town nestled up against the San Gabriels played a big role in how comfortable we felt stretching out and trying to push our musical boundaries," says Murphy. "Anytime we brought someone into the world to add their musical touch, it felt like a highlight." Throughout the album, additional friends dropping in — including drums parts from Chris Cohen on "Laura" and Khruangbin's "DJ" Johnson Jr. on "Rollercoaster” — give the songs extra depth and bounce.  Macro's sequencing elicits an exploratory vibe with high-tempo peaks and breezy valleys in the psyche; astral drifts like "Euphoric Avenue" and "Roxy" (with lapsteel by Ryan Richter) brush up against propulsive pop numbers like "Bang Bang Boom" and the breakbeat-bursts of "Breathe." The latter's exhale sets up "Counting Sheep," both a wistful ballad and a bop. "It's only in my dreams when I'm with you," Murphy repeats across a grooving beat that Stuart built on his OP-1 remixing the demo late at night, isolating the vocals and guitar. "I wrote the lyrics to this song while struggling with insomnia and heartbreak," says Murphy. "That kind of heartbreak that is all-consuming and unrelenting. But I found that within those gutting feelings, the more I leaned into the longing and became witness to the uncontrollable, I was brought closer to peace."  "Workin' On It" finds Brijean at their lightest and free. The track initially started as a living room jam, then "Doug played the two-layered basslines over a loop of bongos, congas, and a drum machine and the rest felt like it happened in a dream," explains Murphy. While working late into the night and struggling with insomnia, she improvised her sleep-deprived lines, riffing on self-improvement and modern times, half-serious at first but something clicked in those small hours. Later she asked fans to send voice memos in exchange for art, and some of those got peppered into the soundbed. "That was a treat… Just getting to go through and hear all of these voices from around the world, an intimate and charming experience."  Brijean sees the record's vast sonic spectrum in contrast to the expectations for their output — "we're supposed to know the box that our art fits in, and then fully commit to it existing within that box," adds Stuart. Take the closing pair of "Rollercoaster" and "Laura"; one a thrilling roller-disco anthem and the other a parade of heartfelt, flute-heavy indie-pop. Both are signature Brijean and offer an appropriate send-off; love, family, fantasy, pleasure, pain... the intention of Macro is not just to move through the ups and downs but to feel it all.