Santa Cruz Good Times

Sunday
Apr 19th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

By the Book

music_StoriesInBrailleIndie quartet Stories in Braille translates epic narratives into ambient rock

Four experimental, indie rockers of Christian faith dare you to quit judging books by their covers. Meet San Jose-based Stories in Braille: Curtis Kern (drums) and Brandon Wright (bass)—two full-time college students—Jala Tass (guitar), and college student pastor Jay Kim (vocals/lyrics/guitar). Since 2008, Stories in Braille’s page-turning tales of love, unity and valor have been articulated through meticulously crafted ambient music, into albums that are, essentially, a more entertaining version of audio books.

“That’s the idea behind the band,” says Kim. “To tell stories that people can feel.” That philosophy is reiterated on the band’s Facebook and Myspace pages, where a quote by author Jim Fiebig is prominently displayed: “There is a wonder in reading Braille that the sighted will never know: to touch words and have them touch you back.”

Kim admits that he can’t recall a time when he wasn’t fond of reading—a fact evidenced on the band’s debut LP, Bravery, released in June 2010, wherein poet Ralph Waldo Emerson and French physicist/writer Blaise Pascal are referenced.

“Words have always been very informative for me—I’ve always been intrigued by the rhythm and cadence of words and sentences,” says Kim. “Sometimes, my writing just comes from the sheer kind of joy in putting words together in a particular manner or rhythm that works for a song.” That joy functions at multiple speeds—from the rapid, stream of consciousness on “Frailty’s Anthem,” a song about failure and progress, to “The Afterword,” a tribute to his wife Jenny, which took months to finish.

Bravery is characterized by sympathetic and uplifting lyrics carried by Kim’s mellow, yet unwavering voice, Kern’s diverse drum beats, and a dreamy drone created by the combination of guitars and keyboards. The inspirational outcome is illustrated by the album cover, in which a boy stands in a forest, with a golden crown and wooden sword. Rather than destroy his enemies, the boy’s intentions are expressed in “Kings Across the River,” in which Kim urges, “Friends and foes, take up your arms. Let's fill these skies with swords of hope.”

When crafting his tracks, Kim looks to novels and a multitude of musicians for songwriting inspiration. Lately, his muses have been David Bazan’s “Strange Negotiations,” Thrice’s new single, “Yellow Belly,” Los Angeles-based band Future of Forestry, Bon Iver, and Jónsi, whom Kim describes as “one of the best live music experiences” he has ever had.

This Sunday, locals just might say the same about Stories in Braille’s first Santa Cruz gig, booked appropriately at The Abbey. Tracks off of Bravery are to be expected, as are songs from their sophomore LP, Here Is Love. Released in March 2011, the album is a compilation of traditional and contemporary Christian anthems, including John Newton’s classic “Amazing Grace,” with ambient rock style melodies.

Though the bandmates are unabashedly tied to their faith, Kim insists that people of all faiths can (and do) enjoy their music. “We all go to church, and we’d all say we’re Evangelical Christians … but we’re not a Christian band,” he says. “Stories in Braille exists outside of that sphere. We had a lot of requests from people to record these [classic] songs—I’m proud of [them] though, because it’s who we are.”

This fall and early winter, the ambitious quartet will release two new EPs, which Kim describes as, forming a “pretty conceptual” and “super dualistic, dynamic thing.” Asked about the band’s target audience, Kim says “We don’t think about that—anybody who wants to hear story through song.”


Stories in Braille plays at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 28, at The Abbey Lounge, 350 Mission St., Santa Cruz. No cover. Call 429-1058.

Comments (1)Add Comment
...
written by Hodgie, August 29, 2011
These guys were real good but a lot of their songs sounded the same, could use some variety. Love the Abby as a venue, even though the place got SWAMPED once church let out.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Smells Like Team Spirit

The organizers of TEDx Santa Cruz don’t just talk about this year’s theme, ‘radical collaboration’—they live it

 

Pluto Retrograde, Aries New Moon, Lyrid Meteor Showers

As the Lyrid meteors, radiating from the star Vega in the Harp constellation, begin showering heaven and earth with light, Pluto, planet of transformation (or die) turns stationary retrograde (Thursday, April 16), 15 degrees Capricorn. Retrogrades have purpose, allowing humanity time to review, reassess, research and reinvent while returning to previous situations. Retrogrades are times of inner activity, seeds sown in bio-dynamically prepared soil. Pluto retrograde is the most serious and resolute of retrogrades—a pure tincture, or, as in homeopathy, a “constitutional” touching the essences of all that matters. Pluto offers deep insight into confusion or puzzlement and areas where transformation is still incomplete. It’s valuable to have one’s astrology chart to follow what area of life the major planets— especially Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto—are influencing. These outer planets have long-term and lasting effects on our psyche, inner/outer life events, how people see us and how we see and process our world. Pluto, retrograde for five months (until Sept. 24) offers deep earthquakes of change, awakens humanity to the task of building (Capricorn) the new culture and civilization, flailing our inner world about, deepening us until we transform and do things differently. Pluto is an unrelenting teacher. New moon (29 Aries) is Saturday, April 18. With the personality-building keynote, “Let form again be sought.” Mars anchors the new creative fires of Aries into our world. The New Group of World Servers participates together in the new moon festival, while also preparing for the Taurus Wesak, Buddha Full Moon Festival (May 3). Join us everyone.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of April 17

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Mighty Leaf

Radicchio from Dirty Girl Produce, wine etiquette fail, and a treat from Gayle’s

 

What would you like to see a TED talk about?

Hydrogen-gas cars that are coming this summer. Scott Oliver, Santa Cruz, Professor

 

37th Parallel Wines

I visited the Capitola Mall recently to check out the newly launched Third Fridays Walking Art Tour, and was surprised to find an impressive assortment of artwork from local artists.

 

New Bohemian Brewery

New Santa Cruz brewery focuses on European style lagers