Plumbiferous Media

I Have Hands – The Bran Flakes

Feb 26th 2009
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I Have Hands - The Bran FlakesThe Bran Flakes
I Have Hands
Score: 82

The Bran Flakes is not really normal; the band name, as well as the album cover and the name of this album are clear indicators of that. But The Bran Flakes has made an incredibly interesting niche for themselves in the realm of mashup music, and have managed to produce an album that so completely overwhelms its oddity by incredible cheeriness that it has worked to incredible success.

The thirty tracks of I Have Hands make up a piece of work which goes beyond its confines of “collage-rock” to become a sort of musical quilt studded with artistic profundities. The Bran Flakes uses its samples, taken from a diverse range of sources, expertly, placing them perfectly within the tracks, often using them as many as five or ten times, slightly shifted in a manner which makes them hilariously catchy – see the excellent “don knotts” for a twenty-seven second piece solely composed of the title, repeated over a colorful, polka-ish backing. The various pieces of vocal patchwork make up introductions, conclusions, and, in the case of “do you want salad with your taco?” the bulk of the song. It could certainly be argued that The Bran Flakes’ upbeat, occasionally discordant mix is gimmicky or contrived, but that would be missing the genius of it all. I Have Hands is more than a simplistic mixing pot of musical bits and pieces. The energetic tracks blend together in an eminently enjoyable manner, becoming a fifty-minute, extraordinarily colorful assault on the senses. In I Have Hands, The Bran Flakes has concocted an excellent mixture of samples, ample distortion, exotic percussion, and a healthy dose of their bombastic creativity.

While I Have Hands is often very successful, it is not without fault. The minute The Bran Flakes’ tracks become less overwhelmed with pure exaltatious emotion they lose the character that makes the album such a success. Tracks like “stumble out of bed” and “the girl that I used to be”, while still excellent musically fail to evoke the emotion that carries tracks like “marchy march” to enormous success, and are further dragged down by sounding overly complicated and to some extent confusing. Still more tracks have the reverse problem. They are far too complex, and force the listener to pay too much attention to what exactly is happening, and not the happiness conveyed by the track. Tracks like the 40 second “make a funny sound” are much more successful, despite them being simple almost to the point of sounding pointless, and lazily created, as they somehow manage to create an aura of sheer positive emotion, that lifts the track to excellence.

With I Have Hands, The Bran Flakes has put together an absolutely staggering, non-stop, universally energetic LP. Though I Have Hands is certainly a collage, to call it “just a collage” would be to miss the point completely. I Have Hands goes beyond its delightfully recycled composition – it wouldn’t be going too far as to call it a piece of modern art. As with all modern art, it’s perhaps too much to ask for everyone to love I Have Hands – but it’s certainly not hard.

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