Braun: As the Veneer of Dumbness Starts to Fade

On As the Veneer of Dumbness Starts to Fade, Braun (Cologne-based Oliver Braun, that is, whose two former albums appeared under the name Beige) merges the funk stylings of Parliament-Funkadelic and James Brown with the anarchistic lunacy of DAT Politics to create wild, dada-like stutter-funk. What prompted the name change? For starters, Braun—more accurately Braun (and the Mob)—is a band, a collective hell-bent on challenging notions of musical taste, convention, and decorum. Comprised of six vocalists and various others on bass, horns, sampler, violin, and (ahem) balloon, Braun (and the Mob)'s convulsively twisting rhythms are mental enough all by themselves, but the insanity ante ups considerably once vocals (delivered in English and Spanish, among others) join the mix.

The opening track alone (“If You Dont Have Da F***!-Buy It (Dont Be Afraid-Its Just a Little Piece of Globashism)”) encapsulates the band's essence, not to mention its affinity for convoluted and grammatically-challenged titles. Atop a synth-stabbed base, vocal coos alternate with a codger's gutturally mused “Nice piece of funk” amid the sour scrapings of an out-of-tune violin. A mutant, horn-driven “Sex Machine” pulse powers “Survival of the Dumbest (Da Revenge of Merzenich...)”), while a slamming, almost tribal feel prods a blazing synth and horn groove in “Explosions in B.e.i.g.e. (Nothing Has Changed...).” The remaining songs trace similar paths on this succint 36-minute album.

I suspect you either cotton to Braun's spasmodic jerky flow or you don't, though its modest running time renders the album more palatable if you're of the latter persuasion. Some listeners may find the vocal babblings more annoying than anything else; others more partial to wildly irreverent and synth-flavoured re-imaginings of Parliament-Funkadelic and The Godfather of Soul, on the other hand, may be delighted.

March 2005