At first, they seemed like students at the nearby Universidad Católica with their torn-up sneakers, jeans, loose-fitting t-shirts and wavy hair. The intricacy and emotional power of their music, however, indicated that they were more than just kids having a jam session.
Photo courtesy of BORAJ
BORAJ is a Santiago-based group that usually consists of 7 distinct musicians who play a variety of instruments, including string bass, violin, xylophone, and saxophone. The group combines a variety of sounds and timbres to present a complex, and often experimental, musical smorgasbord.
According to founders and childhood friends Felipe Markmann and Nico Rosenberg, the group BORAJ was born from moments of dissatisfaction with the capitalist system. These feelings of rebellion gave them a driving ambition to take action against the conservative and traditionalist aspects of Chilean society.
Markmann says that their music is an attempt to “express the soul's desire to find a higher power in this physical realm we know as reality.”
To show this through their music, BORAJ uses distortion and echoes to create an almost ethereal ambience in their songs, accompanied by the “organic” sound created from the use of real instruments. This instrumentation creates a uniquely ambient soundscape that walks the line between the worldly and the otherworldly.
Photo by Felipe Gonzales
Both Markmann and Rosenberg agree that the inspiration for this distinctive sound comes from albums such as Radiohead’s “In Rainbows,” Jonsi’s “We Bought a Zoo,” and Alt-J’s “An Awesome Wave.”
In the band’s newest EP, “Cambiar de Aire,” the band's instrumental and compositional talents are the focus. The voice is utilized as just another instrument - it never truly takes the forefront on the songs, allowing the rest of the band to shine. Songs like “Nudos y Torres” and “Buen Viaje”, attract the listener’s attention to the use natural keyboards, electronic synths, and a mix of both acoustic and electric guitar reminiscent of the post-rock low-fi movement.
When composing, Markann and Rosenberg say that they try to convey a message of spiritual compassion and vulnerability. To them, creating music is a way of trying to define what the word “soul” really means in a materialistic world that they believe makes the answer harder to find.
Photo courtesy of BORAJ
BORAJ are currently working with Eduardo Parra (one of the founders of the Chilean group Los Jaivas) on his new LP, which is due by the end of this year.
The band's next show is at Bar El Clan on Friday, June 26th at 11:30 pm. Don't miss it!