Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Mar 27th
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

 

Best of Santa Cruz 2015

In 40 years of publishing, Good Times has seen a lot of “bests.”

 

Spring Triangle: Three Spring Festivals—Aries, Taurus, Gemini

The Spring signs Aries, Taurus and Gemini constitute a triangle of force that sets the template for the nine signs that follow and the template for the entire year (Spring 2015 - Spring 2016) ahead. Aries initiates new ideas, Taurus stabilizes the new thinking of Aries and Gemini takes the initiating stabilized ideas of Aries/Taurus and disperses them to all of humanity. It is in this way that humanity learns new things, with the help of Mercury, the messenger. As Spring unfolds, three elements emerge: the Fire of Aries (initiating new ideas), the Earth of Taurus (anchoring the ideas of God through Mercury) and the Air of communicating Gemini. These three signs/elements are the Three Spring Festivals. They are the “triangle of force” forming the template (patterns) of energy for the upcoming new year. After these three we then have the soothing, calming, warming, nurturing and tending waters of the mother (Cancer). Cancer initiates our next season under the hot suns of summer. Planets, stars and signs create the Temple of Light directing humanity towards all things new. March 29 is Palm Sunday, when the Christ, World Teacher, was led into Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (humility). Palms waving above His head, signified recognition of the Christ’s divinity. Palm Sunday is the Sunday before the Easter (Resurrection Festival). Palm Sunday begins Holy Week, the week of capture, imprisonment, passion, sacrifice, crucifixion, death and resurrection of the christ. All events in the Christ’s life represent events (initiations) that humanity experiences through many lifetimes. We turn our attention to these holy events this week. Their concepts portray and reveal to us greater spiritual understanding. Then, Aries, the “light of life itself” shines through us.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Best of Santa Cruz 2015 Editor's Picks

BEST NIGHT CAP WARSAW MULE AT SHADOWBROOK
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Spring Spirits

Sean Venus’ gin straight up, remembering Rosa’s and a tasting of Hungarian wines

 

What’s your favorite most recent outdoor discovery in Santa Cruz?

A hike that’s across from Waddell Beach. I didn’t realize you could go across the highway and do a super simple loop, and it’s beautiful. You can see the coastline. Liz Porter, Santa Cruz, Community Outreach

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Muscat 2012

 

Front Street Kitchen

Pop-up spot attracts paleo crowd with locally sourced low-carb meals