Brandt Brauer Frick Brandt Brauer FrickYou Make Me Real
Now that the homeless look of the minimal crowd is all the rage in the magazines, now that the hipster hairdos have won territory to the clean-cut look, it’s time to hail the surgical elegance of this German trio. They dress in a suit and tie, the cut their hair like God intended them to and they don’t look like they’ve been partying for three days without sleep or a shower. A point in their favour in times when hipness and grease layers are the same thing and when skinny jeans and a tattered foulard are considered elegant. The Don Draper look of Daniel Brandt, Jan Brauer and Paul Frick is like their music: handmade, with the seams perfectly sewn, with a whiff of good after shave and the tingling of ice cubes. The German threesome come in the wake of bands like Elektro Guzzi and makes dance music from the other side of the spectrum, inverting the natural laws of the techno universe, using instrumental craftsmanship and giving life to an electronic Golem made without electronica.
Erudite musicians as they are, the three amigos use drums, piano, trombone, harp, synthesiser, glockenspiel and some other weird gadgets as weapons of choice. The objective is to manufacture their musical canvas from scratch and, without help, give birth to intricate danceable music while offering much more warm and organic textures than those made digitally. In this strange territory, where few dare to go, Brandt, Brauer and Frick meander like river snakes mangrove swamps of minimalist mathematics, techno spirit, housey humps and jazzy soul. One step away from a jam session, soundtrack music, Krautrock and electronica, “You Make Me Real” is a brave debut in times of calculators, super computers, samplers, auto-tune and Nespresso coffee machines.
The truth is that, reproduced in an electro-acoustic format, the danceable patterns of BBF acquire a tension very close to soundtrack music. I’ll be damned if “Corky Prelude” –a nervous preface executed in progression– doesn’t sound like a spy movie. In fact, the track that follows, “Bop”, clings on a poisonous piano and an incessant percussive rattling in its first minutes, on what could well be a Brian de Palma soundtrack. I might be influenced by films too much, but even on the magnificent “ Paparazzi” I hear flashes of Lalo Schiffrin and I see images of a guy in a perfect suit from the sixties running from two dark shadows in black lemmy coats. There’s also room for lysergic futurism on the title track –a sizzling mass of comatose sounds that mutates into a kind of slowed-down Latin house–, for icy and microscopic dance –“ Mi Corazón” could be defined as handmade minimal– and for the creation of dark spaces like the extremely tense four minutes of “ Teufelsleiter”: pure suspense generated by faraway drums, meandering tick-tacks, phantom-like strings and anxiety-producing effects. “You Make Me Real” is a different experience, but above all it’s a declaration of authenticity, the reminder that before the machine, there was man. Skynet can win the battle, but not the war.