Rethinking the role of the pig

Anybody can upload a handful of tracks to Bandcamp and call it an album these days but it takes a different type of dedication to put out a double LP — never mind a handmade screen-printed double LP with accompanying 26-page storybook. That in record nerd speak is the kind of “album as art object/statement” one might associate more with the bygone era of progressive rock where the term “concept album” wouldn’t make civilians run for the hills. Gold Bristle! the sophomore effort from Calgary post-rock duo Jung People is most definitely a concept album right down to the slabs of pink vinyl it’s pressed on.

Although recent live performances have boasted an expanded lineup Jung People is essentially the duo of Bryan Buss and Jordan Bassi longtime friends who spent years playing in punk/metal/progressive groups before coming to post-rock in 2010. I sat down with Buss to discuss the genesis of the duo’s new record as well as recording in the same studio as Canadian post-rock heavyweights Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

“Jordan and I we were working in this cafeteria for a couple years. We were both longtime vegetarians and having to serve bacon every day got a bit revolting — and the whole imagery of pigs in general is always such a negative stereotype so during my breaks I was just searching for something positive about pigs” Buss explains. “Eventually I came across the old tale of Gullinbursti or Gold Bristle an old Norse tale that kind of inspired us. We were writing new music at the time and thought it’d be cool to do a concept album something positive about pigs and in our way to kind of promote — I mean in the ‘cuter way’ with the children’s story — the allegory to factory farming for human consumer goods.

“And we love prog so the concept album — all the old concept album stuff we wanted to make something like that” he adds.

Gold Bristle! was recorded with Howard Bilerman at hotel2tango in Montreal a.k.a. the recording studio owned in part by Efrim Manuel Menuck from the Godspeed You! Black Emperor/Silver Mt. Zion axis. A fitting choice given Jung People’s sweeping post-rock/textural ambient sounds not to mention the studio’s recording history.

“We tried to play it cool but were just fanboying it up really” Buss concedes. “All their gear was peppered around the studios; I used this screwdriver that was laying around — you never know whose stuff that was right?”

Although the new record features expanded arrangements (including guest spots from the likes of Silver Mt. Zion violinist Jessica Moss and Arcade Fire/Bell Orchestre French horn player Pietro Amato amongst others) Buss remains confident in the duo’s ability to perform new material live regardless of how many extra people are onstage.

“Since I play an eight-string guitar there’s so many notes and harmonies going on in one chord that I figured — especially since we weren’t sure if we were going to be bringing people on tour with us or not — that we’d layer it in such a way that we could still perform with just the two of us if need be.”

Jung People will be on tour with Edmonton-based drone group Pigeon Breeders who have recently been joining the duo during more ambient/improvisational stretches. Both groups will be performing at the Lantern Church in Inglewood this Saturday November 30 promising an immersive night of textural sounds and luminous acoustics.