Men shoveling coal.
Abandoned railroad tracks.
A migrant worker toiling in hot fields.
Christoph Bruhn, a 2007 Park Rapids graduate, hopes his new music conjures up these images.
An accomplished instrumental guitarist and vocalist, Bruhn returns to home turf this month to release his second album, "Chandelier."
The show is slated for 6:30 p.m. Saturday, May 21 at Terrapin Station in Nevis.
The album "indirectly pays homage to the workers who trudge through each work day from dawn until dusk," writes Kyle Forsburgh of Grass-Top Recording, which produced the album. "There is a great purpose in Bruhn’s art, just like there is a great purpose in the life of a worker who labors all day to provide for the family."
"If you could touch this music, it’d be cold as steel on a winter day in a northern Minnesota junkyard," Forsburgh said.
Bruhn is the 27-year-old son of Mike and Julie Bruhn.
His record is a collection of songs written between August 2014 and August 2015.
"I have a connection with darkness in music. Cement factories, locomotives, steam engines, steel foundries – a lot of imagery from the Industrial Revolution period," he said.
He’s most proud of a song called "Old Kentucky."
"It’s 1843. You’re sitting on a front porch. It’s Sunday. Perfect temperature. Wind blowing through long grass. That scene of near perfection is how this song feels," he said.
Bruhn is largely self-taught. From the age of 12 to 18, he spent "hours alone practicing."
"Park Rapids laid the foundation and got my technical skills up to snuff," he said.
While at the University of Minnesota – Duluth, he studied guitar with Jim Cooper, a 1989 Park Rapids graduate.
At college, Bruhn played electric guitar in a math-rock band called "The Real McCoys."
Math-rock is an indie-rock style filled with difficult time measures, irregular rhythms and unconventional guitar fragments. Renowned for its complexity, math-rock sprung up in the Midwest in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
"Most music is written in a 4/4 time. We wrote a lot of music like that, but also incorporated other signatures," Bruhn explained.
The band broke up in 2012.
After discovering John Fahey and other American Primitive guitarists, Bruhn transitioned to acoustic guitar. American Primitivism is a fingerstyle that draws on folk and blues melodies, he explained.
Bluegrass musicians– like Norman Blake, Tony Rice and Doc Watson – are his guitar heroes.
He recorded his debut solo record, "Weekends on the Frontier," in 2013.
"My approach with this record – whether I wanted to or not – was much like my last one. It’s very accessible. There’s something for everyone," Bruhn said. "A lot of this music is derived from folk and blues."
Now living in St. Paul, Bruhn works as a structural engineer. He also performs alongside Grass-Tops Recording founder and artist Foshburgh.
They prefer the intimacy and audience interaction at house concerts rather than other musical venues, like bars and coffeehouses.
"My goal is for everything to sound timeless – pieces that kind of transcend guitar, pieces of music that could be played on piano," he said.
More information about Bruhn’s music can be found on his website: