By Colin Gallant
Brandt Brauer Frick are a techno trio, they’re a classically trained bunch of minimalist composers, they make pop music and challenging music, they regard tradition highly, yet seek to destroy it. They’re a Berlin-based unit who aim high, argue with logic, and always deliver something compelling.
It was harder to say this before high water mark Joy. The confounding nature of three people making music across intersections of classical thoughtfulness, dance-geared rhythm worship and experimentalist band dynamics isn’t a tidy little thing one can name, justify and place in its respective corner. Brandt Brauer Frick are all the better for it. On Joy, without any pandering, the group’s disparate ambitions make more sense than ever before.
Throughout Joy, we experience acoustic percussion, piano, strings and horns, all settled among erratic acid lines, garage and rave beats, evocative synths and, finally, the nuanced vocals of Canadian vocalist Beaver (I shit you not) Sheppard. His sleep-deprived insistence is the kind of thing you can’t make up: something that sounds as satisfying in a disaffected tone as it does urgently entreating the listener to come to terms with an insoluble truth. Sheppard is an ace in the hole for the ages here. One should only greet his future work with a high bar in mind.
It would be wrong to read that as giving Sheppard all the credit for Joy’s success: BBF wrote and executed the album a bit differently from prior LPs in terms of process; vocals from an outsider as an informant to the composition, responsiveness at the forefront. Respect is due to their instinct that it would pay off, and for offering an invigorating, career-defining moment.Brandt Brauer Frick, Joy