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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