Posted on March 29th, 2013 (10:00 am) by Maxwell Weigel

We hope that this isn’t how all Germans view Miami. Sure, the city has its reputation for some skeezy characters and petty crimes, but the Berlin trio of Daniel Brandt, Jan Brauer, and Paul Frick (who lop off their first names to perform as the collective of Brandt Brauer Frick) envision the city as somewhat akin to Matthew Dear's Black City: the trio's third album contains truly evil, decrepit individuals and the greatest sins against humanity. Whatever happened in the twenty four hours of what they claim was their only visit to the city must have made a lasting impact on them, as this album features a much more doomed and bleaker vibe than ever before. Tension and melodrama suits the neo-classical-meets-techno paradigm they crafted from the ground up. Already way ahead of the curve, Miami sees the trio moving farther and farther away from the lean sound they already established. While this new, more dissonant approach often fascinates as much as it bewilders, it also provides fewer points upon which to latch.

That the album’s creative process must have excited these Deutschlanders beyond belief is very audible. Right off the bat, it’s clear Brandt Brauer Frick have altered their approach to songwriting. No type of consistent beat backs up opener “Miami Theme” for about five minutes; when it enters, it crashes among the atonal cello fluctuations and wooden-sounding piano to introduce their chaotic vision of the sunny city. The trio expertly build tension throughout the ten-minute track to morph it into a straight-up orchestral piece. “Skiffle It Up” alternates between muscular techno rhythms and samba-esque and dubby breakdowns, with plenty of chimes evoking country-mate Pantha Du Prince. “Ocean Drive” chops up a meaty piano sample that adorns an intensely polyrhythmic, metallic pulse, with plenty of string and steel sheet stabs punctuating the groove.

The group claims in their aforementioned press release that the inclusion of vocalists "helped make the tracks into songs," and incorporated members as obscure as a one-time member of German industrial deconstructers, Einstürzende Neubauten Gudrun Gut, to prominent British electro-soul wunderkind, Jamie Lidell. Well, sort of. None of the songs herein resemble any sort of pop song, and most of the vocalists provide textural or atmospheric elements more than melody. Lidell laments how “there’s nothing left but broken pieces everywhere,” as the trio fractures an Afrobeat groove around him in an intriguingly spastic track. Elsewhere, female vocalists Nina Kraviz and Gundrun Gut don’t provide all that much to bolster the esoteric tracks of “Verwahrlosung” and “Fantasie Mädchen” respectively, aside from sexily spoken German phrases.

Elsewhere, most of the tracks alternate between downright creepy, such as on the zombie cabaret of “Empty Words,” and downright difficult. The attention to detail on the album is astounding, yet sometimes frustrating when the splintered sounds refuse to cohere as on “Fantasie Mädchen” and the rest of the Miami-titled tracks. In the end, the album showcases an incredibly intelligent and talented trio who could use just a bit more focus.

Track List:
1. Miami Theme (feat. Erika Janunger)
2. Ocean Drive (Schamane)
3. Plastic Like Your Mother (feat. Om’Mas Keith)
4. Skiffle It Up
5. Broken Pieces (feat. Jamie Lidell)
6. Miami Drift
7. Verwahrlosung (feat. Nina Kraviz)
8. Empty Words (feat. Jamie Lidell)
9. Fantasie Mädchen (feat. Gudrun Gut)
10. Miami Titles

Brandt Brauer Frick: Miami
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

66 / 100
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