Momentum is at the core of Eternal Something – a record infused with the spirit of dance music that was originally to be composed entirely of cymbals. That this review is not found in our Experimental section should hint that the artist came to stray from this path. Instead, Daniel Brandt stumbled along a quite different route to create something unexpected. His debut solo release is the document for that journey – something eternal.
‘I wanted to create… songs that build up like dance tunes but don’t feel like club music at all.’
As part of the German electroacoustic trio Brandt Brauer Frick, Daniel Brandt is a multi-instrumentalist experienced in using his classical training to produce music quite removed from the classical world. Fittingly, this record is one quite removed from Brandt’s original vision: sequestering himself in a cabin in the woods, surrounded by cymbals. Instead, other ideas and instruments “imposed themselves” during his travels across the word, seeing friends and absorbing environments. Primarily comprising keys, percussion, guitars and trombone, the result sits somewhere between a dance record and a thoroughly modern jazz record – each track building in layers of loops, full of overt nods to other genres and infused with the spirit of improvisation.
It starts with a polyrhythmic excursion of experimental post-rock in “Chaparral Mesa” and ends with a sombre, brass-drenched valediction in “On The Move”. The tone may be disparate, but a plodding pulse shared offers the hint of something cyclical. In between the bookends the soundscapes range from dub-tinged electronica (“FSG”) to atmospheric percussive jams (“Casa Fiesta”). Halfway through, the ambient “Turn Over” offers a pocket of space in which to rest amid the humming throng – a lulling guitar-based bed quilted with drones of trombone. Despite the genre jumping, there’s an intricacy to the loop-based composition and execution that unifies these tracks. Despite relentless pulses and frenetic drums, there’s an atmosphere somehow calm – almost nonchalant. Like a confident person amid the timid and ill-fitting, loquacious and indefatigable.
While the first half of the record is playful, in the second half the mood turns to pensive. The intro to album highlight “Kale Me” is extended and atmospheric, building on a solitary looped piano note, while skittish drums caressed inject it with a frenzied liveliness. Following this is the title track, a low-key number in both dynamic and pitch. Through a smoke-infused atmosphere a drum ‘n’ bass rhythm provides energetic thrust, but soon fades, exposing trombone swells that had persisted throughout in all their sinister glory.
Brandt wanted to let these tracks evolve naturally, his minimal interference occasioning a sense of rawness and energy. In this, excepting a few passages, the album falls short. Rather than explosive, Eternal Something feels restless yet restrained, imbued with a simmering energy that is carefully siphoned to create an unending and engaging sense of momentum. It is created with swells, throbs and keys – but we also can’t overlook the key contribution of those cymbals that started it all. And so, like the pulse that never stops, we have come full circle. (Chris Redfearn-Murray)