Sunday, October 7, 2012

Album Review: BadBadNotGood -"BBNG2"

I've gotten another request for a review from my friend Tracy. This time she wants me to take a listen to BadBadNotGood's newest album, BBNG2. Well, here we go.

BRB, never sleeping again.
BadBadNotGood (BBNG from here on in), according to Wikipedia are a post-bop, instrumental hip-hip and urban jazz group hailing from Toronto, Canada. They've only put out two studio albums, creatively titled BBNG and BBNG2, but they have worked with some of rap's recent big names like Tyler The Creator and Frank Ocean. That being said, I can't imagine the music in BBNG2 being able to fit in a hip-hop or rap setting, even one as alternative as Odd Future's.

To me, BBNG2 is a jazz album. Most of the sounds come in the forms of an upright bass, electric bass, keyboards/ piano, and drums. The first track on the album, "Earl", features some really nicely placed electronic buzzsaw synth, which I hoped would show up more on the album. Both "Earl" and the song "UWM" feature saxophonist Leland Whitty who I must say does a bang up job.

The entire sound of the album can't help but remind me of jazz fusion legends Return to Forever, with most songs following a semi laid out structure, while each member takes their turn soloing over the jam. Bassist Chester Hansen can really shred on both electric and upright bass, but everything stays really jazzy or funky. This offers a nice contrast to keyboardist Matthew Tavares' and drummer Alex Sowinski's soloing styles which border on the more spastic and chaotic side of improvisational jazz.

I've got to mention though, that BBNG really manage to keep an eerie and dark atmosphere throughout most of the album, and they manage to build suspense into massive musical climaxes. A perfect example of this is on the track "Bastard/ Lemonade". The song starts like it could be in the soundtrack for Silence of the Lambs before building up and exploding into a frantic piece that would be right at home being a soundtrack for a big chase scene. Throughout the entire album, BBNG show me they are masters of dynamics.

Something I didn't realize while I was listening to the album, but only found out later was that more than half of the songs on BBNG2 are covers. Artists covered include Tyler The Creator, Kanye West, and Feist. I didn't catch any of these covers because I haven't listened to much of those artists' works, but I'm sure fans of them would be able to pick out the renditions and arrangements BBNG have put together. I won't tell you which tracks are covers of what, because that'll just spoil the fun.

Bomb-Ass Tracks: Rotten Decay, Limit to Your Love, Bastard/ Lemonade

On a Playlist With: Return to Forever, Ratatat, Exivious

Overall Score


BadBadNotGood have put together probably one of my favorite jazz fusion albums. I wouldn't put it up there with the classic Romantic Warrior by Return to Forever, but I'd definitely say I love it as much as I love Exivious' self-titled debut. For those of you who don't know how much I love Exivious, I love it. A lot. BBNG2 might just end up making my year end "Best of 2012" list.

That's all for now, folks!

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