Review: Million Brazilians – Strange Oasis (Nonlocal Research, Oct 28)

Art made by humans has long been concerned with ideas of oases, sanctums, or convergence points that lie at the heart of mysterious environments. Often at the heart of these fantasies, whether consciously or otherwise, is the concept of a singularity, the point at the center of a black hole where matter possesses infinite density (but this definition can also be extrapolated to any point where the discernible qualities of an entity become indistinguishable from one another). But what does it sound like when we get there, when we finally reach the mysterious room at the center of Stalker’s Zone, or when Percy Harrison Fawcett stumbles onto the “lost city of Z” hidden somewhere within the sprawling jungles of Brazil? Million Brazilians, in this instance a trio composed of Grant Corum (The Orchardist, Mummy Dust Trippers, Gili Gili Men), Suzanne Stone (White Gourd), and James Shaver (Beyond), attempt to portray the latter through Strange Oasis, their newest full length. Its unique brand of colorful, aquatic avant-exotica is a brave stylistic approach to problem because its strangeness is seemingly both too much and not enough—i.e. too bizarre for conventional audiences but not sufficiently singular to represent an “inverted oasis” where flora and fauna become “a unified harmonic tissue of organic matter.” But Million Brazilians have shrugged off the solution that seems obvious to me (the ultra-dense synthesis of projects like Yeast Culture or Rudolf for a reason. The barely-there ghosts of tribal rhythm, bubbling tropical synths, the spectral gusts of voice and reed instruments like the sweaty chill of humid air… it’s more than just a representation of a place where dividing lines cease to exist. Strange Oasis is actually about the journey along the way, most likely the true form of such a place; where there’s no single spot in the depth of the jungle where abundance becomes oneness, but instead only the slow disintegration of sanity and perception as one travels deeper into an ever-darkening pocket of excess, the eventual inability to properly process or identify the overwhelming stimuli that surround them.