Classical music and club culture aren’t easy bedfellows, which is one reason why Brandt Brauer Frick are such an intriguing proposition. The Berlin trio plays minimalist techno on classical instruments: Their 2011 album Mr Machine was a clubbing soundtrack re-imagined by a 10-piece orchestra. Miami is another album of groove-led chamber music, although this time, it has a more supple, spontaneous feel, enhanced with guest vocalists.
After the portentous funeral procession of the 10-minute opener, “Miami Theme,” the sensational second track, “Ocean Drive,” is a slice of fiery funk, piano stabs jabbing around a 4/4 bass beat. It is cinematic, oxygenated techno that uses the piano’s percussive heft to drive the track forward.
German electronic musician Gudrun Gut uses deranged repeated whispers to embellish the ornate instrumentation of “Fantasie Madchen.” Sun Ra member Om’Mas Keith, who crafted a number of tracks on Frank Ocean’s Channel ORANGE, chants in the slipstream of the beats on “Plastic Like Your Mother.” And Jamie Lidell brings an intoxicating sensuality to album highlight “Broken Pieces,” where the trio ditches steady beats in favor of pure syncopation.
These guests slots smooth out the potential fussiness of the instrumentation, which includes everything from plucked strings to warm brass. The bottom end of a tuba’s range rumbles through “Verwahrlosung” — it could be the trio wittily redefining the parameters of bass music.