Barra Brown - LFT:RT (Album Review)
5 March 2021
Cavity Search Records
Album Rating 4.5 / 5
Live Potential 4 / 5
Solo Performances 5 / 5
Diversity in Songs 5 / 5
Favourite Songs Whoa Hey!, Ferk Ferk Ferk, Rhetorical, Cyrus
Portland multi-instrumentalist Barra Brown introduces a new beat tape style release LFT:RT, a fantastic record focused around his drumming, trumpet collaborations and the desire to create genre-less music.
You can hear anything in the LP from ambient, jazz, hip hop, electronica, spiritual, and glitchy funk all spun into a whirlpool of improvised and sampled movements. There's a restlessness but also laid back approach to the songs, all within the 1 to 3 minute mark of time to allow the different beats to never settle into drawn-out compositions.
His previous work in the Barra Brown Quintet and as one half of beat-making duo Korgy & Bass explain Brown's ambition and experience in understanding and performing a diverse range of sounds. He describes the concept for this album as "to call attention to how binary thinking is destroying us individually and collectively":
"We see all around us the destruction that this binary causes. We are tricked into thinking we have only two options that will deliver us salvation when both do not represent or lift up the voices of the masses. Why do we believe two genders can encompass the complexities of billions of people? I began to see destructive binaries in my own creativity. I thought I needed to live in this genre or that."
This rejection of conforming to a certain genre may seem commonplace in how much broader musical tastes and styles have come through in music over time with greater access to new sounds, but there is something undoubtedly unique about Brown's record.
'Ferk Ferk Ferk' is instantly jars with the drums and bass making as phatter sound as possible, with the prequel 'Ferk' drawing out a futuristic, almost 80s Japanese style synth melody in an electro-funk style. 'Whoa Hey!' is the rhythm section at its finest with drums rotating off the bass and guitar lines arpeggiating into a deeper level that allows Tree Palmedo's trumpet tone to soar with enticing, long notes. The profound, introspective sound equally comes through in the delectable RnB, trip-hop 'Rhetorical' as well.
Brown sees his drumming and how he played as being "a circle" and as a "continuous part of one body" rather than being left or right-handed. This ambidextrous shift from the binary division of drumming best explains the forward motion of all the grooves on the album that never cease.
'Cyrus' is a hip hop in the pocket beat that allows Cyrus Nabipoor to riff off into an ethereal solo, whilst 'Noah' is more ominous and sees Noah Simpson channel the impassioned style of Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah as Brown cuts through with fantastic cymbal textures on the hats and bell of the ride.
With the record bookended by ePP and Alexander Mackenzie's vocals on 'Ride' and 'Wasted Time', Brown really displays the breadth of talent around in the Portland scene, even when there is a pandemic going on. The electronics ricochet in the former whilst a relaxed, neo-soul vibe in the latter nicely contrasts with the lyricism of "you out here losing control".
Having sent improvisations, samples and beats between all contributing musicians via email, there's still the sense that the music feels completely live and created with everyone together in one room. This observation can only be down to Brown's expert production and vision in how to connect everything together. He has done an incredible job in pushing forward how we create non-binary music, and conceptualise one's eclectic thoughts of merging together multiple genres to great effect.
Buy or stream LFT:RT here:
Follow and keep up to date with Barra Brown here: