Making his debut on Warp Records, multi-instrumentalist loop guru Tyondai Braxton of Battles issues an astonishing sophomore solo full-length with Central Market, a brilliant combination of neoclassical composition and filtered electronics, rubbery low-end grooves, and electric guitar.
Enlisting New York City’s Wordless Music Orchestra, Braxton uses Central Market to reveal challenging looped creations that were pieced together and transformed into symphonic compositions. In a few short moments, inaugural track “Opening Bell” weaves together pulsing fuzz bass, poppy whistling, swirling jazz flute, orchestral horn passages, and percussive accompaniment.
Bits of effected vocals appear, but they aren’t remotely close to Braxton’s Munchkin-esque work on Battles’ Mirrored. In fact, legit singing takes center stage for “J. City,” a mathematical ballad that leans on rock instrumentation. As the album unwinds, the material then takes a journey from joyful melodies to ominous, brooding atmospherics.
Summarily dwarfing his contribution to Battles, Central Market is an album that will begin to redefine Braxton as an artist.
The next entrant on this week’s list is another veteran of electro-acoustic rock. Guitarist Harald Frøland, best known for his work in Norway’s Jaga Jazzist, goes by Black Feather for this solo debut of hazy orchestral pop.
Despite the orchestrations, however, Silhouette very much is a pop endeavor, mixing Frøland’s soft vocals with sweeping guitars, fluttering flutes, glistening glockenspeils, and more. Fans of Jaga Jazzist will readily recognize the sound, particularly the epic effects and warm melodies, but Frøland is able to put his stamp on this accessible album.