Lucas Brode – Vague Sense of Virtue and Other Dreams of Mundane Profundity

10.27.20 by Ryan Masteller

Chuck your stupid synthesizers and electronics gear into the river, you experimental goofuses! Here’s where the real forward thinking is: guitars and drums. Now I know what you’re going to say – actually I don’t, because I think you’re an open-minded bunch in general, and your embrace of traditional instruments is fairly wide. But here’s the point: I don’t think you’re going to hear any synthesizers or computer music on “‘Vague Sense of Virtue’ and Other Dreams of Mundane Profundity” by Lucas Brode, unless of course I’m being really thrown off by a “guitar” or “percussion” setting on somebody’s Casio keyboard and I’m leading you into a trap. But I’m pretty sure I’m right about everything I’m saying here.

Lucas Brode watched a LOT of David Lynch and listened to a LOT of Paul Motian as he came up with the framework of “Vague Sense of Virtue,” and the result might be as you’d suspect: moody, cinematic jazz pieces with percussive flourishes (courtesy of drummer Kevin Shea). Surely these pieces wouldn’t feel out of place in “Fire Walk with Me” or “Mulholland Dr.,” and you can almost envision Michael Anderson’s diminutive “The Arm” backwardly rubbing his hands together in glee as if we were about to feast on some creamed corn garmonbozia as something like “You will be remembered simply as an idea” plays over the scene. Or “How many layers further into flow?” Take your pick, honestly – there are seven good options here.

Utilizing Pauline Oliveros’s concept of “deep listening,” Brode and Shea took stock of their environment and played directly to it, injecting a little “ambient” into this whole thing. They play the room, letting the sound interact with the walls and themselves, letting it alight on their bodies like those floaty sentient seed pods (or whatever) from “Avatar.” And while David Lynch is no James Cameron, he definitely knows how the (literal) tone or timbre of a scene works as an immersive experience. Lucas Brode has now proven that he also knows how to do that. WithOUT a synthesizer.

Cacophonous Recordings pressed a cool tenth-grand (that’s 100) of these, with a nice 8-panel glossy cardstock j-card.