BRANDT BRAUER FRICK - MIAMI
OUT MARCH 2013 on !K7 Records
Sometimes what you don’t do is as important as what you do. Brandt Brauer Frick have made name for themselves producing techno without the technology, using classical instruments in preference to synthesizers and computers. It’s a negative that’s had positive results. The Berlin trio’s 2010 debut ‘You Make Me Real’ was a forward-thinking gem. They reworked it on 2011’s ‘Mr Machine’, a techno record played totally live by a ten-piece classical ensemble — they’ve graced the stages of dark nightclubs, classical concert halls and cultural institutions alike, namely Glastonbury, Coachella, Montreux Jazz, Lincoln Center, Mutek, Sonar, Southbank, Centre Pompidou, Fabric, Berghain during their 150 or so worldwide shows over the last 18 months. Taken together, Brandt Brauer Frick are the sound of dance music’s rule book being torn up, pulped and recycled into sheet music paper.
On album three, called ‘Miami’, it’s what Brandt Brauer Frick are not doing that is once again important: they aren’t slavishly following the formula of its two predecessors. “‘Mr Machine’, the record made with the ensemble, especially was very planned and strict,” says Paul Frick. “We wanted to be more spontaneous this time. We wanted to do something very different, more dark and more rough.” Daniel Brandt takes up the thought. “We felt like we’d fully explored the sound we were doing on the first two albums. We wanted to do something different. With the first record we always thought a DJ must be able to mix this. But at some point we became bored with that approach, that formula of things slowly coming together. Also the experience of playing so many gigs in the last years changed our way of making music a lot.”
The result is a record that, like its predecessors, resists comparisons, although for very different reasons. It opens with ‘Miami Theme’, a bleak mood piece built from piano chords and mournful vocals from Swedish singer Erika Janunger. It’s five minutes before a beat kicks in: we’re a long way from techno here, hand-made or otherwise. First single ‘Plastic Like Your Mother’ is a dark-hearted, ever-changing mini opus featuring a melancholy performance from Om’mas Keith (Grammy nominated producer of Frank Ocean’s ‘Channel Orange’ album, as well as Kanye West, Jay Z). Meanwhile, ‘Fantasie Mädchen’ sees Gudrun Gut, founding member of Einstürzende Neubauten and formerly frontwoman in German punk band Malaria!, breathing husky menace over a clattering beat and grunting tuba. There really is noone else making music like this.
The singers had a big influence on the direction the album took. As well as Gudrun Gut, Om’mas Keith and Erika Janunger, there are tracks with Jamie Lidell and Russian DJ and producer Nina Kraviz. “The vocalists helped make the tracks into songs,” says Frick. “For example, it was interesting working with Om’mas Keith, even though we weren’t in the same studio. We sent him a very rough track and when he sent it back it was already a song. It was the same with Jamie: his vocals gave the songs structure.”
There’s still a lot of the acoustic instrumentation — piano, violin, cello, harp, trombone, tuba, many different percussion instruments — that made Brandt Brauer Frick’s first two records so unique, but it’s in an entirely different context. The band feel that they moved on at exactly the right time. “We never started to feel constrained by the formula of the first two records because with this record we’ve escaped early enough,” says Brauer. “Sometimes it’s really creative when you restrict yourselves. When we started this band we restricted ourselves a lot. That was creative. After a few years and playing together so many times we didn’t need these restrictions anymore. When we made the first album we hardly knew each other. Now we know each other very well it was clear that our taste and vision had changed. Our music used to be very minimal. It’s not any more, or at least in a very different way.”
The new album is accompanied by a new stripped down live show — no ensemble this time, just the three protagonists and a specially built stage set. The visuals will be created by Brandt Brauer Frick affiliated production company Park Bennett, who make all of the bands videos and also came up with the overall visual concept for the album inspired by Fluxus art of the ’60s.
Which brings us back to that name. Turns out they’ve only been to Miami for 24 hours in total. “We played a gig and spent the following morning on the beach, that was it,” says Frick. “But the album doesn’t necessarily relate to the real Miami, more like an imaginary one.” Brandt continues: “It’s more like an association. There are powerful associations around the word, a lot of ’80s imagery. We were thinking about a fake superficial world and chaos...” He stops talking. They’d rather not force an interpretation on to the record too much. “There’s no palm tree on the record,” says Brandt, obliquely. Indeed not. The cover is a vintage shot of police breaking up a demonstration. It’s brooding and ominous, not the kind of image you associate with Florida. Which is the point. “People should have their own thoughts about the album,” says Brauer, before adding: “And, you know, it’s also just a word that sounds good. Would Miami be as iconic if it was called something else?”
It's a good question and one that does more to sum up Brandt Brauer Frick's music than any linear association. It's thought provoking, hard to pin down, fluid, sometimes contradictory. Music to engage your brain at the same time as moving your soul. Mind-blowing stuff, in other words.
MIAMI THEME feat. Erika Janunger
02 OCEAN DRIVE (SCHAMANE)
03 PLASTIC LIKE YOUR MOTHER feat. Om'Mas Keith
04 SKIFFLE IT UP
05 BROKEN PIECES feat. Jamie Lidell
06 MIAMI DRIFT
07 VERWAHRLOSUNG feat. Nina Kraviz
08 EMPTY WORDS feat. Jamie Lidell
09 FANTASIE MÄDCHEN feat. Gudrun Gut
10 MIAMI TITLES