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Brandt Brauer Frick
Multi Faith Prayer Room Jeremy Allen , June 1st, 2023 07:38

The Berlin trio have their business suits back on, joined this time by guests Marina Herlop and Mykki Blanco

Brandt Brauer Frick are a Berlin-based trio though what they do feels somehow more Frankfurtian. Daniel Brandt and Jan Brauer grew up in Wiesbaden on the outskirts of a city famous as the birthplace of Goethe and more recently as Germany’s financial district, studying music there too. Since those days they’ve never been very far away from a prepared piano.

It’s electronic music with the addition of traditional instruments and electroacoustic sources, made by composers rather than songwriters who you suspect spend their days in their hip Neukölln loft brushing up on Adorno. Moreover, they dress themselves in the attire of business, and trade under a moniker that sounds like a German law firm. Sometimes they even become the Brandt Brauer Frick Ensemble featuring a 10-piece mini orchestra, crossing over effortlessly from electronic to avant garde and neoclassical. Still, there’s a sense of irony and humour that infuses their work that could only come from the city that hosted the Hipster Olympics in 2012.

Off the back of the recent COVID-19 interregnum, Brandt Brauer Frick return with Multi Faith Prayer Room, a meditation on where we are as a species, though it’s also an affirmation and even a reclamation of the dance music at the heart of what they do. Aside from ‘Mad Rush’ – the first port of call following the ambient prologue ‘R E A D Y T O C O N N E C T’ – there’s not even that much prepared piano. Working within a loose conceptual framework, it’s a record designed to make you think, but hopefully not too much. ‘F U T U R E’, ‘R I T U A L S’ and ‘F A I T H’ – all stylised in upper case letters – are further demarcations that act as a guide that’ll help you traverse Multi Faith Prayer Room safely.

There’s nothing didactic here, thankfully, but rather ideas are offered up and diverse voices thrown into the melange, particularly on ‘F U T U R E’ (with voice artist Marina Herlop), where random talking heads are layered over each other in a tapestry as they ruminate on what might lie around the corner. These divisions also create an abstract narrative arc that makes already cinematic music transcend to become its own unique arthouse techno.

Special mention must go to a startling cameo from Mykki Blanco on ‘Act One’. It’s so chaotic that you worry it might capsize the rest of the record (think Steve Martin in A Little Shop Of Horrors or Rik Mayall’s Lord Flashheart in Blackadder II). One moment Blanco is urging us to “cultivate critical thinking [and] dismantle the harmful systems that create it”, before she’s lost in reverie thinking about a threesome she instigated the night before with a pair of climate protestors. That enjoyably sordid and sometimes hilarious romp is followed by Azekel’s neutralising ‘In Your Head Now’, a dose of ambient electronica that calms things down and assures us that Multi Faith Prayer Room will be able to continue beyond Blanco’s upstaging antics. Thankfully Multi Faith Prayer Room is tangential enough to keep us on our toes rather than have us on our knees.

And speaking of tangential, Paul Frick, the third member of Brandt Brauer Frick (who was born and bred in Berlin) moonlights in Tangerine Dream, that legendary fulcrum of Berlin electronic music. Frick, for the record, is the first member to join Edgar Froese’s group after the leader’s change of cosmic postcode, a move that has prompted some disgruntlement from a certain contingent of the fanbase. Whether a Froese-less Tangs can endure is anyone’s guess; the future – after all – isn’t written. It’s why Multi Faith Prayer Room has no answers and many, many beautifully crafted questions.