Worth the Wait

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Like the tortoise in his fabled race with the hare, Brainbow specializes in the slow and steady.

That's not to say they sound like the Chicago band Tortoise, although both acts are often filed under the same catch-all umbrella known as post-rock -- basically, using rock instruments for non-rock purposes.

For Brainbow, as for many bands in the vaguely defined genre, that purpose is epic instrumental soundscapes that wouldn't sound out of place soundtracking a battle at the gates of Mordor, a game-winning touchdown pass or a glacier's graceful descent.

The Columbus quintet has been perfecting its dramatic swell for three years of live shows and many months of private tinkering before that. Now, at long last, they have an album to show for it.

The self-titled debut, to be celebrated with a show Saturday at Skully's, is about as complete a portrait of Brainbow as you'll find. The music drifts along slowly, building little by little into moments of delirious climax. Brian Moore lays down simple, steady beats, Bobby Silver lets loose booming whole notes on bass and the group's triad of guitarists -- Will Fugman, Chris Worth and Dave Barnes -- weaves warm sonic textures with the most basic of riffs.

"None of us are really doing anything flashy at any point," Fugman said. "But when you put all of it together, it becomes something a lot more intricate."

That was Fugman's idea from the start, when he assembled this lineup with the intention of exploring what glorious sounds could emerge from combining simple patterns and harmonies.

The style required each player to avoid complex riffs -- "If one person does that, it sticks out," Worth explained -- and the result was a huge, monolithic sound that's greater than its parts.

"Nobody ever comes up and says any of us is good at what we do," Silver said. "They just say that we're a great band."

Just as the songs take their time to develop, the band takes its time to develop the songs. Building an elaborate opus from a few humble riffs is a painstaking process for Brainbow. Even so, the album has been done for at least a year. It seems the band has been as slow about releasing its music as it is about writing and performing it.

The delay has not been intentional. Deals fell through with record labels such as Akron's Audio Eagle -- run by the Black Keys' Pat Carney -- and Pennsylvania's Translation Loss.

"It was taking so long," Fugman said. "We were like, 'This is going to get old before it ever comes out.'"

So they decided to release the album themselves under the guise of Night Hippie Records. It's a good thing they acted now, because they're almost ready to start recording their next LP. Of course, that might take longer than they think. But if it's as good as the record they're releasing Saturday, it will be worth the wait.