Tyondai Braxton

(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Krentz Ratings:
The Grow Gauge (1999), 6/10
Death Slug 2000 (2000), 5.5/10
History That Has No Effect (2002), 6/10
Central Market (2009), 6.5/10
Hive1 (2015), 5.5/10
Telekinesis (2022), 7.5/10

Tyondai Braxton (USA, 1978), a New York-based composer who made his name with the improvised digital/electronic tours de force The Grow Gauge (Loopchoir, 1999) and History That Has No Effect (JMZ, 2002), that display his art of "orchestrated loops" through which he manipulated voice and guitar to create "orchestral" sounds, but also indulged in avant-jazz excursions such as Death Slug 2000 (Metatron, 2000), a duo improvisation with Jonathon Matis, has composed the multimedia project N.E.A.R for chamber orchestra and two choirs.

He also plays in Battles with Don Caballero's Ian Williams, Helmet's Jon Stanier and Lynx' Dave Konopka.

Central Market (Warp, 2009), his first album under his own name in seven years, apparently inspired by Igor Stravinsky's ballets, offered complex scores for synthesizer and orchestra. Opening Bell mixes a Steve Reich-ian repetitive piano pattern with exuberant neoclassical orchestration. The Duck and the Butler does something similar on the comic front, with a rhythm and a melody that evoke both Disney cartoons and Ravel's music. The brief Uffe's Woodshop, is a breathless allegro of colliding folkish and industrial themes. The ten-minute Platinum Rows is a sort of post-rock symphonic poem, a convoluted and tumultuous stream of consciousness with dramatic overtones, and, overtly or not, reminiscent of Frank Zappa's bizarrely postmodern orchestral music. The nine-minute Dead Strings is a bolder statement, fusing industrial noise and rhythm, ethereal strings and vocal effects towards a small apocalypse of scratching and dissonance. The one sung piece, J City, is an interesting experiment in fractured funk-rock but probably belongs to another album.

The 42-minute piece of Hive1 (Nonesuch, 2015), the result of two years of live performances, debuted a new project with percussionists and with Ben Vida on synthesizers. The sparkling and rattling tones of Gracka unwind a flamenco ballet for soul-less digital avatars, but the grating and undulating noises of Boids evoke sinister world inhabited by a fantastic fauna. If Outpost is a bit too abstract and Amlochley a bit too simplistic, and the nine-minute Scout1 is a series of variations on tribal rhythms, K2 is an ominous and warped piece of soundscape. Too bad that the intuitions of Boids and K2 are not explored with more acumen.

Telekinesis (premiered in april 2018, recorded in march 2022) is a composition in four movements for electric guitars, orchestra, choir and electronics (87 musicians overall), inspired by the Japanese manga "Akira". Braxton played the electronics. The first movement, Overshare, emits incoherent symphonic phrases in the tradition of electroacoustic music of the 1970s. Wavefolder mixes pastoral chirping of the various instruments with bouts of anxiety (screaming hordes of trumpets and violins and a distant choir). The music seems to dissolve into the lugubrious tunnel of Floating Lake, haunted by ghostly voices and electronic sounds. Overgrowth is pervaded by a sense of frantic energy, like a dissonant remix of Dvorak's ninth symphony, with industrial and gothic overtones, with cascading echoes of Edgar Varese and Diamanda Galas, before the somber ending. The score is at the same time complex and articulate, alternating between brainy and poetic.

(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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