Release Date: Mar 19, 2013
Record label: !K7
Genre(s): Electronic, Club/Dance
Concept. Sounds cold. An idea, isolated. A mechanism in motion. Art as thought; execution follows. Brandt Brauer Frick imposed conceptual foundations. “Classical Techno”: collect instruments and play. Compelling in theory, often rigid from the speakers. Casting off the limiting constraints of ….
On Mr. Machine, Daniel Brandt, Jan Brauer, and Paul Frick re-recorded material from their self-sufficient debut with assistance from a ten-piece orchestra. The project turned out to be less a diversion than a point to the trio's future. While Brandt Brauer Frick remain the core, their third album involves several musicians on instruments like tuba and trombone, violin and cello, marimba and vibraphone.
Brandt Brauer Frick may sound like a badass law firm, but they are, in fact, a badass trio of Germans hell-bent on morphing the lush timbres of classical instrumentation into raunchy beats and bass lines, eschewing the shortcuts of synthesizers and laptops in the process. Miami is their third album together, and one for which Daniel Brandt, Jan Brauer and Paul Frick pulled out all the stops. The pedigree of collaborators here are top notch, featuring contributions from Warp soul man Jamie Lidell, Jay Z producer Om'mas Keith, Monika Enterprise boss Gudrun Gut and Russian producer Nina Kraviz.
In their press shots and videos, Berlin's Brandt Brauer Frick have often played up to the Teutonic stereotype of stiff formality. Their name, of course, sounds like it could’ve been borrowed from a law firm, and, dressed soberly in suits (or at the very least a shirt and tie), tending to their instruments in a workmanlike manner, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a trio of white collar workers indulging a hobby on their day off. It’s a mode of presentation not dissimilar to that of Kraftwerk, but in a sense Brandt Brauer Frick are Kraftwerk in reverse, stripping techno of its synthesisers and drum machines and replacing them with acoustic instruments: pianos, strings, brass, and orchestral percussion.
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.
They may sound like a firm of German solicitors, but Brandt Brauer Frick are instead a group of avant garde musicians from Berlin, one steeped in the city’s reputation as being home to the progressive and forward thinking. What makes them stand out, however, has been their single-minded mining for a new form of experimental techno, rejecting technology to embrace classical forms. Their previous LP, 2011’s Mr Machine, saw the trio record live, limiting themselves in using a group of just 10 classical musicians and working with them to explore the concept of dance music.
Berlin’s Brandt Brauer Frick captured the duality of their music quite well with the title of their 2011 LP, Mr. Machine, a set recorded with a full orchestral ensemble. Daniel Brandt, Jan Brauer, and Paul Frick re-create dance music with woodwinds and strings instead of samplers and synths, making computer music with human tools. The German trio stand largely alone on their new LP, Miami, stripping back some of the florid layers that came with the ensemble on that last set in favor of some vocal features, resulting in an archly dramatic set of compositions.
Brandt Brauer Frick are a bit of a anomaly. The be-suited German trio make dance music with (gasp!) 'real' instruments. Renowned for a rousing live show which they have toured extensively as a ten piece ensemble, BBF describe their sound as 'emotional body music'. They often perform without aid of either laptop or sequencer, instead utilising such anachronisms as harps, grand pianos and a tuba.
“Techno without the technology”, they apparently call it. And I really like that. Brandt Brauer Frick, an ensemble hailing from Berlin who pedal an inventive, playful line in the kind of motorik Krautrock grooves their homeland claims mastery of, are a dance trio first and foremost, but their huge grooves are created out of a dogged determination to stick with classical, traditional, rarely out of the ordinary instrumentation rather than a reliance on samplers, sequencers and laptops.
German experimentalist trio Brandt Brauer Frick seek to constantly re-define the parameters of electronic music and its possibilities. The group take the principals behind dance - the desire to move the body through rhythmic power - and subvert it through different live instrumental approaches. Previous works have seen the trio indulge in highly regimented classical tinged techno, using natural instrumentation to mimic the genre’s inflections and propulsive grooves.