On their previous albums, even at their best, Brandt Brauer Frick have tended to sound a little dry. Their ten-strong classical ensemble brought a rippling energy to the likes of "Bop," but even then their music still had a distinct air of the conservatoire lecture room; it was a clever experiment rather than an emotional experience. Miami, however, marks a shift in the German group's modus operandi. Where their first two albums traded in sparse, minimalist acoustic techno, Miami gets on the funky train. Well, sort of. The almost brash "Broken Pieces" and the brilliantly dense "Empty Words" both feature Jamie Lidell. And the results? Stockhausen & The Family Stone, or Amp Fiddler were he a diligent student of contemporary music theory.
Paul Frick says the aim on Miami was to produce something "spontaneous... dark... rough." Embracing emotive vocals and funk's physicality may seem an obvious way of doing that, but those tracks (like "Ocean Drive", which harks back to their propulsive acoustic-techno), are simply light shading across a far stranger and much richer album than anything BBF have previously delivered. The beautiful opening track, "Miami Theme," is ten minutes of funereal mourning, thanks to Erika Janunger's operatic vocals and a storm of smashing pianos. "Plastic Like Your Mother," which features Frank Ocean producer Om'Mas Keith, is an atmospheric, strung-out fugue that suddenly flips into leftfield electronic-pop mode. "Fantasie Mädchen" is a scratchy, jittery, elusive mumble of a tune with Einsturzende Neubauten's Gudrun Gut on vocals. Like dOP in avant-jazz mode or Villalobos at his most fractured, it has no obviously likeable qualities, yet it's still deeply intriguing.
As the slightly more orthodox closing track illustrates, Brandt Brauer Frick's synthesis of techno and highbrow music theory has evolved. How far they can take it is the question. Miami still isn't their masterpiece, but it suggests they have one in them.
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Tracklist: Brandt Brauer Frick - Miami 01. Miami Theme feat. Erika Janunger
02. Ocean Drive (Schamane)
03. Plastic Like Your Mother feat. Om'Mas Keith
04. Skiffile It Up
05. Broken Pieces feat. Jamie Lidell
06. Miami Drift
07. Verwahrlosung feat. Nina Kraviz
08. Empty Words feat. Jamie Lidell
09. Fantasie Madchen feat. Gudrun Gut
10. Miami Titles
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