Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tyondai Braxton's "Central Market"

Tyondai Braxton's Central Market came out a year and a half ago. As a fan of Braxton's band Battles, I was curious at the time, but after listening to a few clips online and some blurbs about its "classical music" nature, I wrote it off as a likely unnecessary and self-indulgent side project.

Then a couple of weeks ago I was noticing a buzz about Lincoln Center's inaugural Tully Scope music festival, particularly that Braxton, joined by Brooklyn's Wordless Music Orchestra, would be performing the album as part of the festival's program.

Investigating further, I discovered that Braxton has left Battles to pursue his solo career. And upon finally giving the album an honest listen, I discovered that it is actually the perfect follow-up to Battles' Mirrored. This was surprising in light of Battles' "supergroup" status, which notably owes to the illustrious careers of its members that are not Tyondai Braxton. (Credits include Don Caballero, Lynx and Helmet.)

Central Market retains the filtered kazoos, guitar effects and distorted vocals that seemed to reluctantly take center stage on Mirrored. But it places them in an entirely new setting, tossing out the 90s-math-rock rhythms that truly defined Mirrored and replacing them with orchestrated compositions. When "Opening Bell" starts to hit its stride about a minute and a half in, it feels like it could be the score to a new Legend of Zelda game, as I imagine myself swashbuckling my way through Hylian fields.

I'm glad I gave the album a second chance, and there's no need to feel ashamed about being late to the party, but I do now feel like a heel for missing the Tully Scope show.

Tyondai Braxton - Opening Bell [mp3] (iTunes)
Battles - Rainbow [mp3] (iTunes)

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