BRAVEYOUNG Monolithic, moving instrumentals. Damien Riehl

Eluvium—AKA Matthew Cooper—has quietly built one of Portland’s most compelling catalogs in experimental music, encompassing gentle noise, melodic drones, minimalist piano pieces, and modern classical compositions. Eluvium’s music has always seemed to exist on its own island, but Portland-based trio Braveyoung’s new album, Misery & Pride, suggests there may be other local artists worthy of working in Cooper’s considerable shadow.

Like Cooper, Braveyoung’s principals—twin brothers Isaac and Zac Jones and their longtime collaborator Michael Rich—are transplants, having moved to Portland a few years ago from North Carolina. Back east, the band dabbled in several styles, including heavy sludge, post-rock, and grand symphonies of noise.

Misery & Pride is an entirely different beast, trading in aggression for graceful dread. The album alternates between cinematic orchestral pieces and quiet passages for piano and strings, the common thread among them being a deep emotional resonance. This stuff is about as consistently somber as instrumental music can be.

It’s that way from the very beginning. Opening track “Wonderful” starts off like a grayscale carousel rotating in slow-mo, until about two-thirds of the way through when the carousel seems to sink below the surface, giving way to its own requiem. Later, “Oh Love That Will Not Let Me Go” pairs a simple piano melody with heart-swelling strings that rise and fall at a dying pace. At the song’s midpoint, an incursion of minor chords signals a turn toward foggy darkness.

The centerpiece of Misery & Pride is its longest song, the 11-minute “Blue Beyond the Hill,” a hulking collection of teeth-rattling crescendos set against a soft murmur of repeated tones. At once both monolithic and moving, it sounds like immense analog ships passing too closely for comfort in the digital night.

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Braveyoung’s shorter tracks tend to be noisier: “You Pigs Should Find a God to Love” spends half its time lolling around a pretty piano progression before fading into what sounds like a staticky field recording of rock music playing in a busy place. “Such a Worm as I” is distorted from the jump, to the point where you might question the well-being of your chosen speakers as the song’s melody fissures like sunbeams through a dirty window.

Is it unfair to bookend a record review with comparisons to another artist? A little bit, yeah. But with Misery & Pride, Braveyoung have put together an album worthy of sitting alongside Eluvium’s catalog on any shelf. There is no higher compliment.

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