Brewis contends, “Sonically, that was meant to be placed in the past. I wanted a big feel for the ‘Learn To Learn’ video. There were some free black and white videos that fit the idea of a very domineering classroom feel. Like one grade school teacher told me, ‘You’ll be taught how to learn and it’ll be what the teachers decide.’”
Although left field comparisons to Pink Floyd’s similarly sullen schoolmaster scheme in The Wall are tangible, there’s a warmer solace inundating Brewis’ mannerly homecoming travelogues and chilly neo-Classical road odes. So, unlike that conjectured prog-rock masterwork, instead of getting caught up in any real interrogative didacticism or fascist manifestos, Brewis projects lonesome anguish, delighting in caliginous meditative moodiness. Suspenseful rain-dropped piano clusters and harpsichord flutters deluge the rat-a-tat rhythmic pulse fastening the dawdling “The Airport Line,” a reflective elegy yellowing “Yesterday’s Paper” and supervening the “daily grind” of Beach Boys-harmonized synthesizer-textured madrigal, “The Story Waits For No One.” Hazy narcotic enchantment, “The Good Life,” peppers prodding rhythms through its mannered baroque slipstream.
“I enjoy things that are harmonically different—not always major and minor chords. Duke Ellington provides nice fertile ground to get ideas from. I can’t play his hot tempo stuff. It’s too difficult. But Ellington stole from Orientalism and that may have some bearing on the album,” Brewis explains before adding, “I don’t listen to much contemporary music. But the album’s I do like have a certain flow, sometimes narrative, unlike John Coltrane improvisations.”
He also admits that a ripened absurdist Brooklyn-based novelist proved to be a valuable source of inspiration for the expressive versifying drafted onto the indelible The Week That Was.
“I wrote lyrics when I was reading Paul Auster books. I probably appropriated some catch-phrases from his mystery crime fiction.”
Despite being unable to furnish a string section for U.S. touring, Brewis should feel safe at home with his brother and two chummy bass-drum cohorts lending a hand. He claims they’ve responded superbly, giving a wider dynamic muscularity to each and every tune.
“My brother did the most to help. He’s the only person left in the band (from the original studio sessions). It was a totalitarian record,” Brewis laughingly quips. “On tour we’ll bring a basic quartet. Two other friends who have helped us out for fives months and toured Europe are coming to the States. That will close the chapter on The Week That Was. It was an intense record, lots of pressure.” He then jokingly concedes, “I wanna be in a democracy again.”
As for his upcoming Mercury Lounge show in New York, March 9, Brewis says, “We did a gig as Field Music there in the recent past. I’m gonna play The Week That Was in its entirety and then probably a few other songs. We don’t want to overstay our welcome so we’ll do 30 minutes.”
Catch The Week That Was at the Mercury Lounge in NYC on March 9. For more info, visit myspace.com/theweekthatwas.