By Willow Grier
CALGARY — The Robert Frost poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay” about the temporality of nature is probably best known from its recitation in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1983 film adaptation The Outsiders. It’s a reminder that everything pure and beautiful must be fleeting. This ephemeral reality is part of what makes those little perfect, golden moments so special. With this in mind, we turn our attention to the temporary resplendence of Calgary’s Brother Prussia, who currently are releasing their first (and last) album.
Barry Mason, Kyle Tenove, Tory Rosso and Sean Abercrombie have deep roots within the Calgary music scene. With two members from the late, dearly-missed, funk rockers Zachariah and the Prophets, and two members from local math punk group Kyote, one could imagine an enigmatic proto-chemistry suitable for a long career of creation and coalition. So where did the one-album-and-done mentality come from?
When Rosso and Mason began jamming together, it was both for therapeutic reprieve after the tragic passing of best friends Josh Hunter and Zachariah Rathwell and with the intent of making “complicated music that didn’t sound complicated.” Common ideas emerged among the songs the then evolving Brother Prussia were creating.
Mason elaborates, “there are a lot of themes on the album about changing where you’re at if you’re not happy with it. A lot of the tunes are about positivity. If something’s bad you’ve gotta do something about it.”
These themes are richly evident within the soulful, energetically radiating four-song EP. Sunny, danceable, pleasantly complicated frontline instrumentation is met by a dreamy, echoed vocal approach overlay and earthy, tribal backline that roots the project. Overall, the project falls somewhere in the spectrum of art rock.
Drummer Abercrombie describes the group’s varied musical background as their formula for success.
“Before Tory I couldn’t really count past four,” he jokes. “He got me into the swing of counting in different figures and checking out different music.”
Pulling influences from “funk, post punk, psychedelia, pop punk, and noise,” Rosso explains that the album became a project that would teach them and push them more than any other projects.
“In this project there’s a lot of us not being afraid to kick each other’s asses,” adds Mason. “If something doesn’t sound perfect, we would let each other know, and we would try to make it perfect.”
Inspired at first by Nigerian multi-instrumentalist and human rights activist Fela Kuti, Brother Prussia carry a sprightly, Afro-beat pulse nestled amongst mathy layers of guitar. Mason relates, “When I first heard Fela, it was the strangest stuff I had ever heard, but it was so dance-y.”
Rosso continues, “One of the first riffs we wrote together was based off of that.”
With strange, symbiotic bridges being built between very different genres, the band would head to record in Edmonton in a blitz that would leave them with handful of tracks to share with the world before disappearing like a flash in the night.
“After this, Brother Prussia will no longer exist as a name,” admits Rosso.
“This album is a musical collaboration into one piece of music…with a big party at the end,” explains Mason, alluding to their September release party.
The group intend to carry the momentum of extreme dedication and practice that was found within this project and translate it into other endeavours, disbanding following the release.
So Brother Prussia’s golden and simple purpose became: experimental collaboration and celebration followed by dissemination. While fleeting, what better way could there be to look towards the positive things to come?
Catch Brother Prussia’s first and only release show alongside Flowshine and The Gibson Block at Nite Owl on Friday, September 11th.AB, Alberta, Brother Prussia, Nite Owl