Bambara and I could've kept this up all day.
I met with the brothers Blaze and Reid Bateh and William Brookshire in the back of an idyllic coffee shop patio, huddled around a table the size of a dinner plate once my laptop got done with it. It was halfway through Brooklyn's Northside Fest, a mostly hometown-oriented indie rock marathon. Our chat was casual and unhurried. Bambara, named after a semi-useless character from MTV's Aeon Flux, first came up in 2010 with the growling debut, Dog Eared Days, and have continued to darken and muddle their sound since. After the vocal loop/feedback experiment, RINGS, the group released their proper sophomore record, Dreamviolence, earlier this year.
Dreamviolence (to be released on vinyl August 27 courtesy of Arrowhawk) largely got swept under the rug through no fault of its own, but outside of the internet that’s not really true. It’s a relentless, beautiful thing, starting off like the orphaned bastard of The Jesus Lizard’s Goat or the more ponderous moments of A Place To Bury Strangers’ debut before descending into a wild nightmare that only Swans could trip on. The go-to adjective for the band’s sound is “noisegaze,” and that’s only true to a point. Bambara have a very distinct method: the guitars and drums elevate the high end and level the low-end, but it’s the bass and the vocals that provide all the mid-range parts of the spectrum, resulting in a full and toxic sound. Even more baffling is their off-stage temperament: when they're not maniacally fuming or getting fireworks shot at them, these dudes are fucking sweethearts, masking their desire to make hellacious music with the Southern trademark of being laid-back and easygoing. How these Athens, GA natives wound up in Brooklyn chatting with Ad Hoc next to a Koi fish pond is anyone’s guess.
Ad Hoc: You guys have a long history of playing together, right? You’ve pretty much been playing together since you were kids.
Reid Bateh: More than half our lives, right? That’s pretty much how it works.
Blaze Bateh: Yeah, more than half our lives. In 2001, we started playing together and just kept going. We actually formed Bambara in ‘09, I think? The beginning of us playing together was just like any band, just like playing covers. When we formed Bambara, we kind of had a vision of what we wanted to make. We just wanted it to always have a nice balance of heavy, dark, and also pretty. Just like, brutality and beauty.