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Tyondai Braxton

Central Market (Warp)

Oct. 14, 2009
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Braxton’s second solo album, the first since forming the hugely successful math-rock super-group Battles, won’t necessarily appeal to all the scene kids who found themselves at house parties engrossed in that group’s epic, grind-inducing “Atlas.” But those who temper their Crystal Castles records with Frank Zappa’s Yellow Shark or some more recent material by The Residents will find a lot to enjoy here.

While there aren’t any of Battles’ pounding beats, Braxton does make use of his usual bag of tricks, including jabbing guitars, kazoos, loops and whistles, all augmented by the Wordless Music Orchestra. “Uffe’s Woodshop” comes closest to sounding like what you’d expect from a Battles album, with its rapid-fire staccato arpeggios and swirling electronic Chipmunks vocals. “Unfurling” is a bit of dissonant soundscaping complete with exploding firecrackers, a sound you’d expect would offer connotations of childhood and joy to the listener, but actually manages to add to the track’s creepiness. “J. City” is a deceptively radio-friendly guitar-loop-driven track, more accessible than most of Braxton’s work, solo or otherwise, and yet right at home on this avant-orchestral album, a serious compositional achievement with plenty of seriously playful moments.


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