Particle Devotion’s beautiful, bright mess

Multi-instrumental act Particle Devotion brings sonic scapes on debut album

When your rag-tag, eight-piece band is composed of classically trained musicians, the result is nothing less than carefully organized chaos.

It’s hard to wrangle all of Particle Devotion into one room at once. There’s fronting vocalist and guitarist Brian Bell, bassist John Cleere, vocalist Chloe Johnson, percussionist Clyde Bates, vibraphonist and vocoder specialist John Mann V, drummer Scott Graves, trombonist Nick Garrison and producer Ryan Erwin. But you can grab them just before a late-night rehearsal. Six of them, including founding member Brian Bell, are graduates of LSU’s School of Music, so they know the value of rehearsal.

Each member of Particle Devotion (formerly known as Gardens) throws out a different descriptor for their genre, some more tongue-in-cheek than others. Post-rock, orchestral indie rock, post-emo, folk rock, post-shoe-emo-gaze. The clearest explanation is a combination of indie darling Bright Eyes and ethereal Icelandic post-rockers Sigur Rós. The sound is organic and multi-instrumental.

“It’s never hard in this band,” Cleere says. “It’s like a potluck dinner.”

The musicians’ self-titled debut album, released in October, began with Bell at a point in his life that was “about as low as [he] could get.” Living in Tampa, Florida, at the time, Bell found himself tangled up in several personal disasters when the vision for the album came to him at once—a “grandiose” vision for a sound and feel that would be emotionally heavy, cacophonous, hopeful, transcendent, total. The album, he explains, was written “from rock bottom on the upswing” and aims to capture and encapsulate the feeling.

Bell couldn’t bring this vision to life alone, and the rest of Particle Devotion brought their own instruments and harmonies to Bell’s framework over six months of work at Baton Rouge Music Studios.

“It’s cool to bring these starting points and then everyone’s personality thumbprint is put on it … It’s a cool process for me of having this rigid way I think things should go and getting really attached to this idea, and then I bring it to the band and they take it from me. But when they give it back, it’s so much more blown out and beautiful than if I had made it myself.”

The final result is an LP that the band couldn’t be more proud of—each member agrees they’ve never played better than on this album. Their favorite tracks on the album include “Beautiful Bright Mess,” “Stockholm Syndrome” and crowd favorite “Pause Button,” but it’s the cohesiveness and meditative “sonic scapes” of the entire piece they hope listeners appreciate most.

“This [album] is like the road trip home, listening to it loud in your car when you’re by yourself, reflecting on people you love and people you miss, and being happy that it happened and moving forward with some kind of positivity,” Bell says. “Start to finish, it’s dope as hell.” facebook.com/particledevotion

Particle Devotion
Particle Devotion