Tyondai Braxton Central Market

Tyondai Braxton Central Market

Battles front-man Tyondai Braxton masterfully combines orchestral gestures with more whimsical colours on this new disc. While armed with vocals, guitar and his usual battery of effects, Braxton has collaborated with New York's Wordless Music Orchestra on over half the album, to great effect. The writing is frequently propulsive, assertive, loop-driven and rhythmically angular, strongly evoking composers such as Julia Wolf, Louis Andriessen and even Stravinsky. But Braxton introduces choice cartoon-ish elements to the mix, such as kazoos, whistling, jaw harp and almost goofy electronic sounds, which link this work to Van Dyke Parks' oddball orchestral adventure, Song Cycle. And while some similar projects have simply sounded as if the "classical" ensemble were employed to breathe some life and "class" into some otherwise tepid compositions, Braxton's orchestral imagination absolutely shines here, demonstrating a keen sense of instrumental colour. Each piece is highly dynamic and rich. Regrettably, the more song-like "J. City" sticks out too much, due to Braxton's idiosyncratic, almost robotic vocals. However, closing track "Dead Strings" imaginatively combines impressionistic string swirls with foreboding electronics, guitar, vocals and spastic prog rock drumming. While unflinchingly ambitious, this record is concise, dynamic and highly listenable. Recommended. (Warp)