The Brooklyn experimental music powerhouse is always hard at work, and another something nicely bundled has come down the pipes: Downtown Runnin, an album full of sound and genre. It is the debut LP of Big French, a five-member group founded and led by Quentin Moore and featuring members of Vermont’s Blanche Blanche Blanche and Great Valley.
18 tracks long and clocking in at 30:11, the album translates to an average of 1:40 per song. Just like most releases with that format, this one seems to be more of a collection of partial songs than a completed recording, and between the rapid track changes and the sporadic tendencies of the pieces themselves, this record is incredibly difficult to follow.
“I Love Her,” the opener, begins with pretty basic guitar strumming, but the comfort of familiarity is lost after about four seconds, when all hell breaks loose and Moore’s weird falsetto, reminiscent of South Park’s Towelie, begins letting out lyrics that probably aren’t meant to be discernible anyway. It is the most erratic song of all, quickly changing both tempo and key. I think that the album begins with a daunting track as a test of the listener’s will, and much more pleasant sounds await those strong enough to hold out. “Payback” comes sixth on the LP. Featuring a driving rock rhythm with some fancy guitar wails, shortly followed by a catchy-as-hell keyboard solo, it is my favorite and I wish it were more than a minute and a half in length.
Downtown Runnin is by no means a bad album, but it is not for the faint of heart. Big French are a set of very talented musicians, and there are plenty of jewels to be heard, but a certain kind of ear is needed to really appreciate the record as a whole, like one that is in tune to the Brooklyn experimental scene. Also, a certain amount of patience is required to not become enraged when whatever song strikes the listener’s fancy ends so suddenly.
In A Word: Unexpected