Music Reviews

Artist: CHRIS BROWN (@)
Title: Rogue wave
Format: CD
Label: Tzadik (@)
Rated: *****
It's always great to review a record on Tzadik, you never know what to expect, obviously something "not so ordinary" and Chris Brown is exactly that: "not so ordinary". This composer comes from the West Coast like Terry Railey and James Tenney and like them can be considered an innovator in the composing process as you can easily hear from this release. Chris Brown sound is different because he uses "different means, different tools and different approaches", that's a cheap explanation, but now you know why it all sounds a bit "weird". If I say besides being a composer and a pianist he's an electronic musician it can make you think to the latest Afx Twin (Draqs), or on the other side you'll think to something in the vein of John Zorn's "Songs from the hermetic theater", but "Rogue wave" is not like the most of the things you may have heard before. This collection of six works/compositions from 1984 to 2004 is a complex portrait of a composer striving to find his own particular way of expression. "Transmission tenderloin" could be a patchwork of radio transmission played/de-composed by two computers, in "Retroscan" a piano work gets processed live by an interactive computer program (it reminded me of the swiss electronic musician RM74). The title-track erupts into a sort of magma made out of electronics, scratching and percussion (nothing in comparison to "Cloudstreams/Bellwethers" in which the "Orchestra" is represented by a "five piece computer ensemble"). In "Flies" the atmosphere returns to what could be defined "the bastard son of chamber music and live-electronics". Probably the most "traditional" track (if you consider Railey and friends "traditional") is the last one "Alternating current", it has been composed around 1984 but as you can hear the mind of the "young Brown" was already incredibly fertile. It took me three or four listening to "catch this Wave" but with some patience I did it, well, that's the point: the music of Chris Brown is not "weird" but simply "personal" and innovative, it puts Chris Brown at the forefront of electronic composition while coming from a "classical" background (you can still hear it here and there). "Rogue wave" it's outstanding and you'll discover a new detail after every listening.

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