Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
May 22nd
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

 

Gate Openers

Up-and-coming artists like Ryan Bingham are a great reason to show up early to the Santa Cruz American Music Festival

 

Gemini Sun, Pentecost, Shavuot—Enlightenment and Gladness

As the sun enters Gemini on Sunday, sign of speaking, communication, thinking, inter-relations, writing and understanding languages, the feast days of Pentecost & Shavuot (Catholic and Jewish festivals) occur. During Pentecost’s 50 days after Easter, tongues of fire appear above the heads of the disciples, providing them with the ability to understand all languages and all feelings hidden in the minds and hearts of humanity. It’s recorded that Pentecost began with a loud noise, which happened in an upper room (signifying the mind). The Christ (World Teacher) told his disciples (after his ascension) when encountering a man at a well carrying a water pot (signs for Age of Aquarius) to follow him to an upper room. There, the Holy Spirit (Ray 3 of Divine Intelligence) would overshadow them, expand their minds, give them courage and enable them to teach throughout the world, speaking all languages and thus able to minister to the true needs of a “seeking” humanity. Pentecost (50 days, pentagram, Ray 5, Venus, concrete and scientific knowledge, the Ray of Aquarius) sounds dramatic, impressive and scary: The loud noise, a thunderous rush of wind and then “tongues of fire” above the heads of each disciple (men and women). Fire has purpose. It purifies, disintegrates, purges, transforms and liberates (frees) us from the past. This was the Holy Spirit (Ray 3, love and wisdom) being received by the disciples, so they would teach in the world and inform humanity of the Messiah (Christ), who initiated the new age (Pisces) and gave humanity the new law (adding to the 10 Commandments of the Aries Age) to Love (Ray 2) one another. Note: Gemini is also Ray 2. Shavuot is the Jewish Festival of Gladness, the First Fruits Festival celebrating the giving of the 10 Commandments to Moses as the Aries Age was initiated. Thus, we have two developmental stages here, Jewish festival of the Old Testament. Pentecost of the New Testament. We have gladness, integrating both.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Off Her Meds

Kristin Wiig runs wild—and transcends her sketch comedy roots—as a truly strange character ‘Welcome to Me’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Flats Bistro

Pizza with an artisan twist comes to Aptos Beach

 

What’s your take on Santa Cruz locals?

Santa Cruz locals are really friendly once you know them. I think a lot of them have a hard time leaving, and I would too. Ryan Carle, Santa Cruz, Biologist

 

Soquel Vineyards

If Soquel Vineyards partners Peter and Paul Bargetto and Jon Morgan were walking down the street wearing their winning wine competition medals, you’d hear them coming from a mile away. This year was particularly rewarding for the Bargettos and Morgan—they won two Double Gold Medals and five Gold Medals at January’s San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

 

Enlightened Flavors

Squash & Blossom’s artisanal alternative-flour delights, beet kvass from Cafe Ivéta, and the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival