Barra Brown: LFT:RT (Cavity Search, 2021)

March 5, 2021 at 7:55 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Barra Brown: LFT:RT

The newest album from Portland’s Barra Brown is a fluid mixture of jazz, hip-hop, ambient, and post-rock built from an intricate mixture of improv sessions, manipulated sample packs, and remote songwriting sessions. The liner notes comment on how it’s pointless to have to reduce billions of people to two genders, and likewise, he doesn’t feel the need to pick one genre over another, or choose between instruments. And when he does play drums, he’s circular rather than left- or right-handed. The brief album starts out with the woozy funk-rock of “RIDE”, featuring rapper ePP, and most of the rest of the tracks are instrumental. “GULLS” is a busy but lounging instrumental with a complex, twisting time signature and something imitating seagull calls, ending up with a solo ambient guitar figure. “NOAH” (one of three songs named after other musicians who play on the album) starts off slow and bleary and gets headier later on, with splashing, tumbling drums and a blazing trumpet solo. A series of short tracks seem too stuffed with ideas to just be thought of as throwaway sketches, particularly the Squarepusher-y mania of “FERK FERK FERK”. The anti-coke rap “WASTED TIME” (with Alexander Mackenzie) is both laid-back and focused in the exact ways it needs to be, much like the rest of the album. “rhetorical” feels like it’s wistfully looking back with its lush strings, but the flute, trumpet, and choppy drums push it ever forward.

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