Saturday, 4 July 2009

Thoughts on that whole Tyondai Braxton album listening party

"Strange, steroidal kitsch" was my suggested hook; my friend Alex responded with "classical Girl Talk."

The last time I heard any TB solo material was 2005--noisy, loopy electronic stuff, with a distinct emphasis on texture. I want to say "industrial," but I'm sure that Industrial afficionados will disagree. Central Market, Braxton's first post-Battles solo release, preserves the loops, and it's hardly quiet, but otherwise evinces a major aesthetic shift. It's more dancy (although not in a strictly danceable way--go on, prove me wrong), and the sound palette has expanded to include all manner of acoustic instruments: pianos, trombones, flutes, clarinets....

Considering that he used to be a one-man (plus copious effect pedals) band, Braxton's desire to exploit the resources available to an established recording artist with a built-in fan base is understandable. However, the results of his explorations are anything but: four-to-the-floor bone-shakers, built on Reichian keyboard loops and symphonic string swells, punctuated by fuzzy synth glissandi and pitch-shifted chipmunk vocals al la Battles' Mirrored; gloopy electro-ambient interludes; brass fanfares and flute solos; militaristic snare drum rolls (on almost every track).

Okay, so maybe that sounds like a blast (how would I know what a blast sounds like?), but the reality is thoroughly perplexing. Central Market is a stomping monolith of random episodes, confusing and (at a "listening party," at least--lights dimmed, voices hushed) kinda arduous. Maybe it'll come together after a few listens; it's certainly colourful, and there's an underlying sense of musical mischief that might just redeem the kitschiness, once properly apprehended. For now, however, I'm totally in the dark. What do Girl Talk sound like, anyway?


Alun Richards said...

Guess which comma I want to remove from this piece. That's right, the sixteenth one.

Lord of the Files said...

You can download Girl Talk for free (or for whatever you want to pay for it)

I think it's pretty dang good. Surprisingly, it sounds like Girl Talk, even though it's all sampled from other, very well known songs and isn't significantly transformed other than layering and arranging, and some EQ and mastering and maybe some sneaky time-stretching natch.