“An assault on the ears” is only one end (the loud, wild end) of the spectrum that BRANDON SEABROOK‘s music encompasses. Valleys of beautiful do also exist amid mountains of chaos, and the astonishing, virtuosic cliff faces of this man’s music for banjo and guitar. A Massachusetts man, he wandered just south of the home base state that we share, to NYC, where by all accounts he has been terrorizing listeners for some time with his caffeinated, and very dangerous abilities on 4 string banjo and ye olde electric guitar. Beyond playing with, SEABROOK POWER PLANT (the unholy punk/ free jazz trio not the NH Nuclear Facility), Seabrook also plays in ensembles with the disparate likes of Kid Millions, Mary Halvorson, Anthony Braxton, Toby Driver, and Elliot Sharp. And the list goes on.
If you’ve heard Seabrook shred you already get what the fuss is all about. To liken his music to anything is a fool’s game, but what am I if not such? THE DREEBS and HUBBLE flash across my brain in an electrical moment spent pondering contemporary like minded aural instigators. But both of those great artists share only a partial area of sonic overlap with BRANDON SEABROOK. The string delivered madness of Glenn Branca and Mick Barr exist as some kind of precedents, but not of the whole; again there is no whole precedent, nor contemporary that I can point to in trying to explain this music. It is awash in amazing and strange. The sound that is delivered by Seabrook is often sent at speeds that daze, and or set upon the listener as cyclones, that ensnare in totality (but do eventually release).
Appropriate thanks must be given to NEW ATLANTIS RECORDS for unleashing the new BRANDON SEABROOK album known as SYLPHID VITALIZERS upon us. A beast of a recording. NEW ATLANTIS has been SLAYING for a while now. In fact, let’s just say that they SLAY. SYLPHID VITALIZERS is a mere 5 tracks, but each is an insane harbor with countless inlets. “Mucoidal Woolgathering” begins as a tangled and undulating mass of banjo squalor writhing against a droning chordal backdrop. As the drone fades, and layers of banjo are peeled away, lightning like syncopation emerges from the the plucked cloud, and eventually several “riffs” alongside the first appearances of percussion on the track, segue us where else but right back into, or at least near, the cloud. It now hosts a violin as well, further heightening the unsettling, and unknowing vibe of the music set before us. Machine-like bass drum pushes the entire piece to the limits as its background drone radiation combines with gasping, reaching, scorching violin, to usher us into the sub-bass void of the last minute of the song. An experience. Every one of these tracks an experience.
This is heady, fully realized avant-garde string manipulation and recorded amazing. Most special about BRANDON SEABROOK’s music however, is its immediacy. Some listeners who shy away from “weird”, “experimental”, or the efforts of “modern composers” are going to find themselves cottoning to the sounds found on SYLPHID VITALIZERS. It may not even be by choice, they may simply find themselves in the proximity of the sounds, and BLAHHHM! Bowled over, and enlightened (via head smashing into concrete) by machine gun banjo blasting. Or perhaps they will be drawn to a pool of ambient tranquility in this music, only to have a sonic bag thrown over their head by an unseen assailant (Seabrook, ‘natch), and dragged into some CLOCKWORK ORANGE-like situation where conditioning of the ears then commences. Fantastic stuff. You might need this in your life. Also, BRANDON SEABROOK will be playing HASSLE FEST 6 in November here in Boston. Now you know.