Hybridicity Music, 2016

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


Brasstronaut is not your typical guitar or synth-oriented indie band. This Vancouver-based outfit of six, which includes players of trumpet, flugelhorn, wind-synth, and clarinet (on top of the usual guitars, bass, keyboards, and drums), makes music that refuses to be compartmentalized. It is as eclectic as it is interesting. Compared with the band’s other two releases, this self-titled third album is most certainly their danciest.

Right from the outset, the album’s desire for grooviness is apparent. The opening track “Hawk” is smooth and chilled-out, featuring a disco vibe. Instead of taking over the song, the wind instruments are used almost like synthesizers as they play in the background, subliminally adding richness and depth to the overall smooth vibe. There isn’t much singing on this number; it mainly consists of the confluence of musical instruments just methodically jamming together.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The ensuing “Paris” has even fewer sung parts. The wind instruments create an atmosphere of eeriness and beauty amid a danceable beat. With the presence of so many instruments and players, the songs on Brasstronaut are more about the musical jams than the singing. But this is not a jam album, and Brasstronaut is certainly not a jam band. The interweaving of the different musical sounds is deliberate, and together they create an atmosphere, with each instrument adding subtleties to the overall effect. In this manner, Brasstronaut sounds like a layered experimental electronic album, except that the music here is all made with real instruments. This also applies to the disc’s absolute danceability, which is built not upon drum machines but with actual drums and bass.

A great example of this is “Desert Rock,” which sounds like a Daft Punk song featuring real instrumentation, especially with its funky bass line that lends a modern-day disco appeal. However, the grooviest track on this album is “Raveshadow,” not only because of its utter infectiousness but also because of how cool and self-assuredly smooth it is.

Equally cool is “Tricky” with its warm and pleasant Afrobeat guitars, as well as the album’s concluding number “Climb.” Both are probably the least groovy cuts on the album; instead, they are soulful and breezy. “Climb” features beautifully touching vocals sung by guest singer Nina Moffitt, who accompanies Brasstronaut lead singer Edo Van Breemen. The wind instruments on both are buoyant and softly played, their sounds resembling the gentle swaying of flowers to the breeze on a sunny summer day.

On the other end of the spectrum, “Old Pan” is the gloomiest number here, though it is no less of an album highlight. With its angular beat created by the guitar, bass, and drums and noir-ish atmosphere, this track brings oddball darkness to this album – and it also happens to be pretty awesome.

Brasstronaut is unique and have their very own distinctive sound. This album not only reinforces their uniqueness, but it is also an undisputable example of how darn good the band is at what they do.

Rating: A-

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© 2017 Vish Iyer and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Hybridicity Music, and is used for informational purposes only.