Ethereal wave is back from its slumber since its steady peak in the early 90’s with Brass Box‘s “Tragedy (A Prayer).” The Los Angeles ensemble, fronted by Ammo Bankoff, Neil Popkin, Matthew Bennett and Pablo Amador, take their Gothic, romantic threads that have been prominent since their 2016 release, Waves, and expand lush soundscapes with a heavier grit. Pairing the track with its visual component, directed and conceived by Bankoff, “Tragedy” sees a bittersweet beauty in the bleakness of a tragedy and the prayer that emerges from it.
“A tragedy is a symbol of growth. The subconscience burdens carried by past decisions create the assumptions we make. It shapes the risks one is willing or unwilling to take,” explains the band on the track. Angelic vocals that are colored with a sense of doom by Bankoff tug at heartstrings throughout the early minutes. Looming guitar delays — offset by crunchy chords later on — and punchy drums are rimmed with a brass undertone, much heavier than the band’s alternate version, “Tragedy” that provides melodic twangs and a softer feel. Sharing some traits with the shoegaze realm, “Tragedy (A Prayer) refreshes these traits with its mystical roots, emphasizing the notion of praying through their dark, and serious post-punk filter.
Slicing these dark tempos, the video’s eerie opening captures a fascination around death. Destructive stills are paired with a blooming rose that overlays a female character which is cut in an abstract manor as the track continues to growl. Despite the imagery that is presented on screen there’s never hopelessness. The ethereal reality provides a slight comfort, similar to the notion of prayer, in which the band has successfully portrayed in sight and sound.
Cover photo: Jenny Rolapp