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Local experimental-pop ensemble Br’er doesn’t always make for easy listening, despite the fact that its music often includes some truly beautiful passages. Mastermind Ben Shurr‘s material is often challenging, and sometimes uncomfortable. The band’s excellent new single, “Chanel Divinity,” continues in that vein.
“The song is about a trans woman who was murdered, named Islan Nettles,” Schurr says. “And across your heart are vines of ivy/Caging the little girl/Locked up in private/And she’s unchanged/In your garden,” he sings on the track.
Schurr’s anger after hearing about the August 2013 incident, combined with similar stories of hate crimes from his own transgender friends, inspired the song. “Ultimately, it’s a song that I really want to raise awareness,” Schurr says. “As a trans ally, I just want to help however I can, and I guess as a songwriter, this is the best way.”
The lead single from Masking, Br’er’s forthcoming album, “Chanel Divinity” heralds both a great deal of stylistic change and a keeping with tradition for the band. Br’er has always relied on the combination of heavily layered synths and Schurr’s measured vocals, supplemented by Ben Usie‘s drumming and Erik Sleight‘s bass. Though both Usie and Sleight are still very much involved with the band, their contributions now have a decidedly more electronic sound.
For those less interested in a purely electronic approach, the single’s B-side approximates a live version of the track. Clocking in at over eight minutes, “Chanel Divinity (Glacial Ascension)” features Usie and Sleight in their more traditional roles. “I like making the live experience different from the album, because they are totally different experiences,” Schurr says.
Masking is out in September, and Br’er plays the Black Cat on July 14. Stream “Chanel Divinity” after the jump.