Progressive rock has always been known as a sort of genre for intellectuals and music conservatory purists. The genre is laced with things like extended 20-minute songs, ridiculous time signatures and impressive instrumentation.
Calgary’s Jung People, however, are bringing their own humanitarian element to the table. Formed in 2010, the band has been gaining a notable amount of steam lately, playing the massive South By Southwest (SXSW) festival and making an appearance at Canadian Music Week. In addition, they are on the verge of releasing Gold Bristle, their new opus to their animal loving roots.
“Jordan [Bassi] and I are very involved with animal liberation in most of our work,” says Bryan Buss, band main-man and eight-string guitar wielder.
“You can really see that just with song titles and, basically, although instrumental, we always like to put our morals in everything, in as much art as we can.”
The nine-song offering does not disappoint in that aspect.
Based loosely around the story of the Norse god Freyr and modified to suit the band’s own message, “the story follows a carousal of pigs through their journey of innocence and their unknown fate. Breathing fact into the lungs of legend, a golden pig is born, who sings the hiding gospel of certainty, and liberates his friends and family into wilderness, the original home.”
Mainly though, it serves as an allegory to the mistreatment of animals in factory farming. The instrumental band – rounded out by Bassi (drums, keyboards, guitar), Darren Young (stand-up bass), Dominique Ma (violin) – felt the message so important that they created a children’s book to accompany the album so listeners can get a real sense of the story.
“With the children’s story, we basically wrote as much as we could so you could read along to the story. If you read too fast, you can just listen along until the next track begins,” says Buss, who emphasizes innocence and subtlety in this kind of approach.
“We don’t like shouting at the top of our lungs on a street corner. We prefer to do it in kind of a cute kind of quiet way.”
The album was recorded at the highly regarded hotel2tango in Montreal, which has produced huge names that include none other than The Arcade Fire and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Manning the controls? Howard Bilerman and Greg Smith.
“They’re just really calm,” he notes of his engineers.
“Instead of overproducing your work they just let you do the talking and let you work on your own piece as much as you want. They really bring it out of you naturally.”
Bilerman and Smith also worked their magic into bringing a variety of session musicians in on the project, including Jessica Moss of Silver Mt Zion (violin) and Pietro Amato of Arcade Fire, doing nothing less than putting Buss and co. in a very surreal situation.
It was all a culmination that led to a record that plays very much like a classical orchestra, with very intricate and beautiful arrangements that convey the mood the band was trying to get to their audience.
“On the musical side, there’s certain elements that will carry out throughout the whole project,” says Buss. “So, there might be certain guitar melodies that are repeated at the start and then it comes back at the end and then a certain phrase that’s halfway through the album was at the start under some other musical layers.”
It’s something that the band’s fans can look forward to when the album is released November 30 at Republik and, with an upcoming U.K. tour being booked for May and another cross-Canada tour for the summer, things will surely only get better for Calgary’s favourite humanitarians.
Jung People will release Gold Bristle on November 30 at the Lantern Church.
By Brandon McNeil