Album Review: “I Told You” (Brad Fritcher’s MOODS)
Trumpetist/composer Brad Fritcher‘s project “Brad Fricher’s MOODS” did set my mood to “upbeat” when I came across this release. This groovy, Jazzy album has a variety of beats, from down-tempo “wonky” beats to Jazzy Drum ‘n Bass. That makes it a little harder to “categorize” this album, but I think I would label it under “Nu-Jazz”. The first track of the album (“Rolling Clouds” feat. pianist Jonathan Leach) might suggest you are going to listen to a “low-fi” album due to the vinyl noise, “wonky” Fender Rhodes (by Leach) and a somewhat “distant” sounding trumpet (Fitcher), but – like every track on the album – it is well recorded, mixed and mastered, it has a nice “transparency” to it’s sound, so no detail is lost.
All tracks have nice compositions, are well played and the choice of instruments, sounds and samples is tasteful. There are a few “mellow” downtempo tracks (“Rolling Clouds”, “MOODS”, “Must’ve Forgotten”), a medium track with Drum ‘n Bass like grooves (“The Jackyl”), a track with a somewhat “bombastic” sound (“Red Cross”) and even a track with a slight “Latino-vibe” to it (“The Associate”). You don’t have to worry you will become bored listening to this album. The only track on the album I didn’t like as much as the others is “i told you” (track 6 and the album title track). It sounds a bit too “commercial” (mostly the vocals en harmonies) for my taste and has a different mood than the rest of the album. It also sounds less “transparent” than the rest of the album and even a little “cluttered” in the mix.
Most of my reviews on Roel’s World are about instrumental releases. This album though has a couple of tracks (“Red Cross”, “i told you”, “Carpools”) with raps or vocals as well. Now, I enjoy listening to Hip Hop / Rap (I am a fan of East Coast Hip Hop groups like A Tribe Called Quest, Guru’s Gang Starr and “Jazzmatazz“, The Roots, et cetera) but for this review I will “skip” the tracks with raps. Don’t get me wrong, they are well done, but I am going to “highlight” 3 tracks of this album that I simply liked better. The rest of the the tracks I will leave up to you to explore.
This Jazzy Drum ‘n Bass track would fit perfectly in a playlist with groups/musicians like Kneebody, the Xaver Fischer Trio and Laurent de Wilde (Time 4 Change album). It has a very organic sound and is besides “Reflex” (track 7) the most acoustic sounding Jazzy track of the album. Lovely theme, nice soloing … a track that most Jazz fans would appreciate I think.
In contrast with “The Jackyl” (very much so a “musician’s track”) is “MOODS” a much more “produced” sounding track. Lots of sampling and loops and a “tracker-like” build up. With that I mean that ever 4, 8 or 16 bars another “loop” comes in, drops out or replaces something else. I would not be surprised if this track was produced in Ableton Live, FL Studio, Renoise or some other tracker DAW. There is just enough going on to keep your attention without pulling you out of the flow. It has a somewhat “low-fi” kind of feel to it, the samples used and instrument cuts made are tastefull.
What I really like about this track are the wind instrument “cuts” and the way they have been used. It has almost an “ethnic” Balkan-like quality to it (specially from 02:06). Having lived in Bulgaria for 20 years – where I developed an appreciation for ethnic music – it was a pleasant surprise for me to find horn phrases in this peace that reminded me a little of that.
“Reflex” (alternate take)
As Jazz fan (my favorite music genre to listen to) I could not resist writing about this rather short (02:42) track. It is the most “traditional” Jazzy sounding track on the album. It starts with a Drum ‘n Bass like pattern by drummer Jonathan Barahal Taylor and an unison theme played by the horns, double bass (Joe Vasquez) as well as muted guitar (Travis Swanson) if my ears don’t deceive me. The unison lines of the theme sound “loopy” (composition-wise), giving this fully acoustically played song an interesting feel. It is nice there are no harmonies played by guitar or keys, giving the track the same “vibe” as Jazz trios (like the Odean Pope Trio or Kenny Garrett Trio – drums, bass + sax) have. Even though you would perhaps think the horns (Brad Fritcher – trumpet & Patrick Booth – saxophone) being the lead instruments play the most important “role” in this track, but for me it is actually the drums that define this track. After the initial theme Taylor drops the Drum ‘n Bass pattern and “plies” between different broken and Jazzy grooves and becomes more “free” closer to the end with fills, making it almost sound like a “solo feature”.
You can listen to the other tracks of this album at bandcamp or soundcloud, see link below: