Rainstorm Brother is the elemental post-rock-inflected freak-folk of John Isaac Watters and Tyler Chester. The new duo’s sound is the perfect marriage of solo artist (and former architect) Watters’ pensive, spare acoustic numbers and producer/keyboardist Chester’s deep, dreamy soundscapes. Together, they build impressive structures from immaterial forms—emotions, memories, sadness. The Los Angeles-based musicians are accompanied on their new EP, Pt. 1, by an impressive host of musical cohorts including singer/guitarist Madison Cunningham (Verve Records, Live From Here with Chris Thile), guitarist/engineer Justin Stanley (Beck, Leonard Cohen) and drummer James Mcallister (The National, Sufjan Stevens). Through years of experimentation, they’ve found a way to realize monumental architectural works in song; the compositions span epochs in three-to-five minutes while remaining as approachable as pop.
Pt. 1—tracked at Boulevard Recording Studio in Hollywood—brings to life a sound cultivated in L.A. hideouts like Silver Lake’s Hyperion Tavern. During a weekly residency at the club, Watters attracted such musical guests as Win Butler (Arcade Fire), Mark Eitzel (American Music Club) and Daniel Lanois, but he’s found special alchemy with Chester. “Working with Tyler has really broadened my horizon,” Watters says. All through Pt. 1, his work as a folk/country balladeer is juxtaposed to intoxicating effect with Chester’s synthesizers, layered strings, modular electronics, sequencers, 808s, live drums and electric guitar, casting his music in a lush and challenging new light.
The duo’s process developed by simply treating the samples and soundscapes as just another instrument in the band. During live sets, pre-recorded sounds are triggered just as any other instrument; adding to the challenges of performance and radiating a strong human element alongside all the electronic subtleties.
Glide is proud to premiere the video for “Fiery West” (below) an echoey track of woozy breakbeats and western-tinged folk that makes for a Portishead meets Bright Eyes wash of cinematic imagery and words. Directed by Daniel Finlayson and JP Nickitas, the orgeous new video follows Watters as he embarks on a journey of self-discovery in the California desert and blends perfectly with the uneasy backdrop of the track.
“We set out to make a video that captured the story of a character (played by Isaac Watters) burdened by his acts of empathy.,” says Finlayson and Nickitas. We built a mythology behind that character: a lone stranger who walks the desert with an unending and singular task: to relieve strangers of their painful, though dearly held memories. Their pain becomes his own, a burden symbolized by the backpack he carries throughout the video.”
Photo by Daniel Johnson