“Can you crack the code?” This is the mantra of JJ Brine, the force behind the iconoclastic one-man band CodeCracker. Brine’s distinctive style evokes shades of Joy Division and Nico – his primary influences – while amounting to a future-retro brand of electronica all his own.
Brine cites his “frantic” experiences in world travel as a major inspiration for his music; his time in the Middle East has been particularly influential. While living in Beirut, he and his Lebanese boyfriend were kidnapped by Hezbollah following an “incident” in the Dahiye suburb. At gunpoint, with bags over their heads, they were held captive and interrogated for seven hours before being released. Brine admits to being terrified by the experience but also calls it “exhilarating” and adds that he “thrives under intense circumstances.”
Brine claims a musical consciousness rather than a course of musical experience and education. “I’ve been singing for what seems like an eternity.” For Brine, music transports, as it does for his listeners. The distinctive baritone vocal and cinematic musical style of CodeCracker married to the lyrical focus on esoteric, religious, and political subject matter has drawn a cult of acolytes with just one record released and a second on the way.
CodeCracker, the self-titled debut album, explores religious themes and relationships of power, giving the listener a deliciously demented sonic experience. Displaying his affinity for situations of extreme contrasts, CodeCracker presents the reflective, down tempo “Portrait of Ruin” with sparse guitar/drum/bass/synth instrumentation alongside the lush electronic experimental romp “I’ll Dig You Up and F**k You.” With the dark, perhaps even nihilistic tones of his debut, Brine occupies a seat of power among his fans and musical cohorts that is certain to continue and evolve into his next project, titled ESM due out for release in March.