BrandNewTrumpets has never been one for conforming. Be that to genres or a society she thinks is built on injustice and false histories. On previous releases, she’s told the stories of forgotten Chinese empresses, NHS workers and her own Mauritian heritage. All set to experimental drums and wildly unpredictable tempos. And it seems BNT has made the conscious decision to give these voices center stage this time around.
Because whilst the music on offer is still as rich and textured as what we’ve come to expect from BNT, it’s been carefully crafted to allow the contemplative, often confrontational lyrics to defiantly stand out. This is particularly true on ‘Smile & Disable’. The opener flits between otherworldy incantations and angry bars that speak of the inequality she thinks capitalism breeds. It’s a track that manages to both burn with anger and mourn with melancholy.
Musically, ‘Smile & Disable’ is stripped back and sparse. Although the rumbling bass does keep one foot in half-time DnB. It’s a tune that is unapologetically left-field. But its structure is kept familiar by the verse / chorus dynamic the switching vocal styles create.
Which is not something that can be said for ‘The Crossing.’ This is BNT letting her jazz tendencies run riot. It tells the horrific story of a 16-year-old-boy who drowned trying to reach Britain after fleeing Sudan. This six-minute opus is nothing short of nightmarish. The drums (curtesy of Bob Macc of Rephlex / Outsider / Inperspective) replicate the relentless rocking and swaying of water spine-chillingly well. So much so that you can almost feel the music swelling around you.
On top of this, the trippy sonics and wispy vox make you feel delirious. Like you’re being enveloped and suffocated by the sound. Which is a devastating and poignant reminder of the tragedy the track is portraying.
If we’re being perfectly honest, it’s hard for us to say we enjoyed every moment of this release. But we won’t say that’s a bad thing. If we did, we’d be missing the point. It’s unlikely that either of these tunes will make their way into your next setlist but they will make you think, despair and most importantly feel. Whether it’s anger, fear or sorrow, the emotion throughout these two tracks is palpable. At times it’s uncomfortable but what’s comfortable about people risking their lives to reach safety?
Enter Smile & Disable / The Crossing with an open mind and you’re sure to be absorbed by its message. One which will stay with you for a long time after.
DIFF046: Smile & Disable / The Crossing lands as part of a trio of releases from Diffrent’s core artists Dexta, Lakeway and BrandNewTrumpets. Each in some way reflects the past, present and future of the label to celebrate its 11th anniversary. All three are out 26th March on digital and limited edition 10” lathe cut vinyl.