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(63:10, ‘Little Brian’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Slow Greasy 3:25 2. T-1000 3:38 3. Ondarf 2:33 4. Bitch Gets Punked 2:40 5. Animal Cruelty 4:22 6. Car Chase 3:17 7. Rat Damage 5:41 8. Slaughtered Seals 5:52 9. Thrash Funk 2:56 10. Symptom 3:19 11. Party 27:25 LINEUP: Sam Damask – basses Butch Smith – drums Selden Tual – guitar Matt Muehling – guitar Graham Richards – keyboards Kazuki Nagashima – saxophone Clay Pritchard – saxophone Jay Jennings – trombone With: Tex – percussion
Prolusion. I believe “Thrash Funk” is the first release by LITTLE BRIAN, from the States, although the CD arrived without a press kit, while the band’s official website, mentioned in the booklet, is currently inaccessible.
Analysis. Originally suggestive, the title of this recording turns out to be fairly reflective as regards its contents in reality also. An octet of bass, drums, two guitars, two saxophones, trombone and keyboards, Little Brian plays a mixture of Funk and Thrash Metal with some symphonic and fusionesque tendencies on eight of the eleven instrumental tracks here, namely T-1000, Bitch Gets Punked, Animal Cruelty, Car Chase, Rat Damage, Slaughtered Seals, Symptom and the title number, the quantity of heavy elements growing steadily as the album unfolds. The last four of these remind me often of ‘80s Voivod in construction, though Slaughtered Seals and Symptom both reveal quite calm (usually piano-laden) moves in places, as also do all their brothers in style from the disc’s first half. Running for about 33 minutes, all the said pieces are in every respect the essence of this recording, though it is hard to pick out the best one among them, since all have virtues as well as flaws which bear practically the same character on each. That being said, the rock part of the ensemble (bassist Sam Damask, guitarists Selden Tual and Matt Muehling, keyboardist Graham Richards and drummer Butch Smith) sounds impressive overall, playing for the most part with energy and resourcefulness alike, from time to time displaying truly appealing musical ideas and, moreover, an original approach to their chosen styles, of which Funk is after all considered to be one of the most conventional and widespread musical trends in general – along with samba, bossa nova, cha-cha-cha, etc and so on. However, the brass players, saxophonists Kazuki Nagashima and Clay Pritchard and trombonist Jay Jennings, in the majority of cases follow strictly the standard funk formula, doing joint unison and the like (in fourth or fifth) leads which are just chords in fact, very rarely, if ever, venturing on solos. I realize that they were likely not allowed to improvise, according to bandleader Sam Damask’s design, but what does it matter in the context of the album’s general perspective? The last track, Party, exceeds 27-minutes in duration, which at first comes across as a promising feature, but is an illusory one in fact, it converting into something strange in the end. Conditionally, this monstrously long piece can be divided into three sections, with the first one concluding the line of compositions that are stylistically prevalent here. Then, however, follow five minutes of dead silence (perhaps reproducing the sound of emptiness): a strange trick, to put it mildly. The last two thirds of the ‘epic’ consist predominantly of semi-spacey, semi-random synthesizer effects and grotesque sounds that the musicians elicit from their instruments, most of which are done randomly also and can at best be reminiscent of so-called soundscapes with a kind of industrial feeling. Finally the remaining two tracks, Slow Greasy and Ondarf, are both Funk of the first water, the grooviest and the most repetitive pieces on the disc.
Conclusion. I want to believe this recording’s stylistic inconsistency points to the youth of its makers, not signifying that it’s their creative credo, chosen once and forever. Otherwise their future work will also only partly belong to progressive rock music. I’m pretty sure that none of those who are traditionally into the genre will like all that “Thrash Funk”, meaning in its entirety.
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