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Articles and thoughts by Peter Holslin

Tyondai Braxton, “Central Market” (Warp; 2009)

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This review was published this week in CityBeat

Tyondai Braxton

Central Market
(Warp)
*8.5*

Goes well with: Igor Stravinsky, Mr. Bungle, Looney Tunes

A worthy market not only carries a selection of functional sundries but also an array of candies and trinkets. And Central Market is quite worthy, offering a fusion of rock and classical accented with pitch-bent vocals, whistling, kazoo and even fireworks.

Braxton, a classically trained multi-instrumentalist, contributes vocals and guitar to the post-rock outfit Battles and builds loops painted with effects in solo performances. Central Market, his first solo album in seven years, is his most ambitious statement yet. With the help of the Wordless Music Orchestra, a genre-bending ensemble that has collaborated with the likes of Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood, Braxton captures the angular forms of 20th-century composers like Igor Stravinsky.

But while Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” feels dark, Central Market overflows with color. Amid the album’s off-meter grooves, dainty interludes and explosive climaxes, many surprises abound—the flute and lighthearted whistling of opener “Opening Bell,” the wacky vocal stabs and swooping strings of the 10-minute centerpiece “Platinum Rows” and the feverish electronics of finale “Dead Strings.”

By bringing purpose to each bit of grandiloquence, Braxton has written a delightful album with staying power.

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Written by Peter Holslin

November 18, 2009 at 8:07 am

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