Bravest Boat are a collective based in Glasgow and Bradford exploring structured improvisations, loose composition and prepared spontaneity. Some written bits, some not.
Emerging from a series of concerts of varying line ups led by the idiosyncratic twin guitars of Stevie Jones and Jer Reid, the personnel eventually settled down to form this group, also including Aby Vulliamy (viola, voice), George Murray (trombone) and Rafe Fitzpatrick (violin).
Bravest Boat, all voracious collaborators, have a background of working together within Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra, Sound of Yell, The One Ensemble and Sycamore with Friends, as well as within countless other contexts; with film makers, dancers, artists, theatre makers, community projects, and music therapy. Stewart Smith described this extended scene in The Quietus as “more of a rhizome than a family tree”.
Some of the earliest Bravest Boat performances were alongside Anne Marie Copestake’s LUX commissioned film And Under That, where Jer and Stevie would accompany the film before seamlessly flowing into a full band performance. At one of these events, Margaret Tait’s Where I am Is Here was also screened – it was from the final section of this film, showing two small boys playing with a toy boat in a pond, that the band took their name.
A love of raw sounds, field recordings and lifetimes participating in DIY music led Bravest Boat to record in locations of significance to them as a band and individual musicians, away from the recording studio. Kinning Park Complex, a community centre in an old Edwardian school that was reclaimed from property developers with a now legendary sit in in 1996, is a venue, rehearsal space and general headquarters for many of the band and other kindred spirits. The 1 in 12 club, a key venue in the 90s anarchist underground, re-opened as a collective, community led library, events space and social centre just as Aby and George moved back to Yorkshire. These places were inspirational to the band and offered unique, raw acoustics that helped define the sound of the debut album, Bowed Beam.
Bowed Beam is released on film maker and artist Luke Fowler’s Shadazz imprint – home to many projects with which the Bravest Boat collectively identify – Sarah Kenchington and Daniel Padden, Rude Pravo & National Bedtime are all held dear along with sides by Richard Youngs, Lee Patterson and Fowler himself.
Original art work for the record is by Rob Churm with whom all of the band have a long term working relationship as an artist, musician and curator. Rob’s support as booker at The Old Hairdresser’s in Glasgow (as well as that from other DIY promoters across the UK such as Cry Parrot, Andy Abbot and Sholto Dobie) has been crucial to the band’s development.
“Reid and Jones bury their guitars deep in the peaty soil. Then they sing long tones into the dirt… finally they hang their instruments high in a tree and let the wind finish the work.” – Fritz Welch
“Expanding on the folk-tinged avant-punk of their excellent Sycamore project, Jer Reid and Stevie Jones recruit Rafe Fitzpatrick on violin, Aby Vuliamy on viola and George Murray on trombone for an elementally beautiful set that moves fluidly between pastoral post-rock, free-wheeling string melodies and jagged rhythmic workouts. A weekend highlight.” – The List