He's the guy up at night by himself, stitching songs together in his New York City apartment all winter. There's a special art to making an album in the spare seconds that the rest of a regular life can't quite reach. Recorded track-by-track-by-track with Pratt on most of the instruments in his apartment studio during the New York City winter of 2010, this slow-motion musicianship became Natives (Luaka Bop).
Natives may be your first official introduction to the music of Bright Moments but if you have spent time with some of the most beloved indie albums of the last decade, you'll quickly realize that you know him well. He is the multi-instrumentalist whose trumpet sparks across so many of Beirut's songs and whose harmonizing vocals is a central component to the band's robust live performances. He has also shouldered everything from flugelhorn to flute to bring Arcade Fire's Neon Bible to life, and was part of the horn section that LCD Soundsystem used during its sunset days.
Although Natives is his first as Bright Moments, it's the spiritual sequel to his earlier band Team B, whose 2008 album was recorded right into the microphone on a MacBook in hotel rooms and hurried backstage demo sessions while Pratt was on tour with Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem. (Members of Beirut, Antibalas and LCD Soundsystem all helped, with LCD drummer Pat Mahoney being the only guy who actually joined Pratt in a real-deal studio.) For Bright Moments, however, Pratt wanted to make sure to take his time.
The album was recorded with no set schedule beyond, and drew slowly together, with the songs all developing at the same time like puppies from a single litter. Beirut's rhythm section (Nick Petree and Paul Collins) and accordionist (Perrin Cloutier), as well as the drummer from Pratt's former Afrobeat band Akoya, awaited direction. On some tracks, Pratt would use his trumpet as a percussion instrument; on another, he'd snip a shaker in half and sample the sound of sand pouring out to make a beat. The lyrics took longest--inspired by and sometimes drawn directly from an old book of Scandinavian poetry discovered on tour, or the little-known story of the girl who was the first person ever to be cured of rabies. (That'd be track two, "Milwaukee," named after the specific method of cure.)
You may not exactly be able to identify the sampled sound of live bats on "Milwaukee," or the bathtub splashing-turned-percussion on "Traveling Light." It's these details-- heard and even unheard -- woven into this densely arranged album that allows Natives to reveal itself over time, listen after listen. Natives is soaked in this detail. It's a pop record by a guy who's decided he can do anything he wants. There's no fear on NativesÂ—just enduring, and sometimes heartbreaking, pop songs that unfold forever, with who knows whom hiding within.
Pratt's put this pyramid together, spending a year in the home studio he calls his "instrument graveyard" where a dozen brass instruments compete plaintively for attention with synthesizers, guitars and more. With gigabytes of field recordings and found sounds sourced from all over the planet. And reinforcements, from the ranks of the musicians he's recorded with in the past — this time from Team B, Beirut, Yellow Ostrich and Spoon's Jim Eno behind the mixing board.
Thick with thieves and ghosts the same, Bright Moment's Natives is a long-player created to be lost in.