Brainstory is a tale of brothers bounded by blood, by fate, and a small town with nothing to do. Brothers brought together by some unknown magic that would set them free to create, to sing, and to play a music of the soul. To open a window of truth in a world of auto-tuned hamburger egos. To forever be pushing long hair out of their eyes as they explore the cosmos beyond the hot, dusty, world in which they’ve dwelled. And what a universe it is. One part Jazz and one part Psychedelia, with a whole lotta Soul put in the middle. Add some Hendrix and Mayfield, some Bossa, and some afro-latin groove and you’ve got the right idea. Pure fun-love-exploration music.
Their story begins in the long lost lands of the San Bernardino Valley, in the twilight zone known as Rialto, California: A hot, arid, dusty, wasteland of boredom and dirty trash-filled empty lots, which could’ve only given rise to the backyard punk jams of the boy’s teenage youth. Through Punk and skateboarding, brothers Kevin and Tony Martin found liberation from the monotony. But soon a hunger for more would grip the boys—for they grew up in a rich musical world far beyond that of the hardcore punk they admired. As long as they could remember, they were surrounded by their father’s soulful gospel expressions as a popular lead vocalist in the church. Every Sunday was a lesson in soul bearing performance. Frequent weekend visits to Grandma’s house also were important in shaping their musical destinies. As an avid Jazz and R&B fan, Grandpa Juan played the likes of Duke Ellington, Louis Jordan, Johnny Hodges, Count Basie and other 30’s and 40’s artists both on the turntable and on his tenor/alto sax. Swinging was the key lesson. Thus naturally, Jazz, folk, soul, and psychedelia would soon make a feast upon the brothers’ souls. “Bitches Brew (the Miles Davis album) was a big one for me”, says brother Tony. “All my life I had lived with a hunger for imagination and adventure. After listening to this album here was everything I craved, crafted in sound. After that first listen, I knew I wanted to be a musician.” In their early years, it was normal to hear the Doors blasting out of one room and Coltrane out of another. Sometimes it was Bob Dylan and Monk butting heads. Or Mingus and Smokey. There was always an eclectic set of ideas, melodies, and sounds. College and girlfriends may have separated them for a while but the calling was always there. It just wasn’t the right time. Many bands, gigs, and demo-recordings later, the final piece would be found to unite the brothers at last.
Tired of the small music scene in the IE, Tony set his sights on the San Francisco Bay area, where he honed his upright bass jazz chops for 2 ½ years. It was during this time apart that Kevin, also tired of the limited opportunities around him, had a vision. “I was so disillusioned with being a guitarist in other bands, playing the same small town gigs over and over. I knew there was something more.” With the encouragement of long time friends Chicano Batman, Kevin had the idea of creating his own project. Thus, Brainstory was born.
Originally an acoustic guitar duo the band grew into a full piece outfit with the return of Tony and the addition of longtime jazz trio member Eric Hagstrom. Armed with a renewed love for the electric jazz sounds of their inspiration, the trio of destiny was now complete. The work on the new EP ‘Brainstory Presents: A Natural Phantasm’ began in 2012.
Now finished and to be released on the Chicano Batman love-child, El Relleno Records, the EP turns out to be a musical revelation. It all starts off in the far away Miles Davis grooves of “The Sunrise” and takes us on a journey into the sounds of the inner and outer cosmos. ‘The First Yesterday’ is a bossa inspired existential anthem that never lets go of the groove. It’s lyrics twist and turn through visions of galactic atmospheres to the deep, inner contemplations of modern man. ‘A Wonderful Why’s refreshed styling tours through bop swing, late 60’s funk, and afro-cuban tumbao. The track’s fiery syncopations swing heavy with a colorful tinge of surf-rock. The ‘ballad’ of the EP, ‘Olde Valley’, is an ode to the land that borned these brothers. The luscious vocal harmonies wash over the soul with the grace of nature’s infinite beauty. “The song serves to remind humanity of the supreme reality of nature”, explains Tony, the writer of the song. As we come to the end of the “Natural Phantasm”, we find ourselves in ‘The Future’, an uptempo rocker that entices the listener to move their body to the song’s post-apocalyptic tenor of the world at large. The adventurous odyssey of the tune’s diverse soundscape launches the album to its zenith. Conclusively, the boys say goodbye with ‘The Sunset’, a spacey companion piece to ‘The Sunrise’ that delivers a definitive epilogue to the EP’s astronomical-sonic expressions.
It is said that the eye is the window of the soul. This is eye-music. Music of the body, the mind, the spirit, and the earth. Tales of nature, ectascy, of darkness and light. Excursions in rhythm, melody, harmony; taking you to the pinnacle of the open-blue sky, and back down to the ground of the raw earth of each listener’s humble beginning. Stripped down funk, jazz improvisation, and spacious vocal harmony seek to take the listener to a place of expansion, a place of dancing, liberation, and love. This is our music. This is our memorandum. This is the story of our brains.
Photographer: Gloria Plaza