Thursday, January 24, 2013

Jherek Bischoff - Composed (2012)

It's hard to imagine I almost missed this record: there might not be record so relevant to all of my interests than Jherek Bischoff's Composed. And yet that was almost the case. I had no idea of its existence until "Eyes" was featured on Sondre Lerche's Best of 2012 Spotify playlist and was reminded to check out the whole album by it's featured spot on We Listen For You's Overlooked Albums of 2012.  

Jherek Bischoff's record certainly boasts an impressive list of players; from legendary heavyweights David Byrne and Caetano Veloso to somewhat newer acts in Deerhoof's Greg Saunier and Mirah Zeitlyn (of Mirah and Thao + Mirah fame) but the featuring of such a talented and eclectic bunch of performers is secondary to Bischoff's own talents. Featuring an enormous orchestral sound, Composed is more of a display of Bischoff's excellent producer talents than anything. Recording friends, collaborators, and co-conspirators separately and layering them to get sound of an orchestra.

Despite it's opening and the rather straightforward David Byrne led "Eyes", Composed is a lot more than clear trodden lines and accessible fanfares. On, "The Secret of the Machines", Bischoff plays with instrument timbres and employs their percussive qualities and drafts fleeting ornaments before allowing everything to unravel noisily into a slightly jarring outro. While dark, languorous "The Nest" plays like an interesting mix of cabaret and gypsy song. With it's rotating cast of players, the album's truest source of cohesiveness comes from Bischoff himself and his artful arrangements to keep things from sounding like too many hands on the jukebox.  

Writing the songs himself on ukulele before expanding them into the orchestral pop majesty you hear at play and shining a spotlight on those who offered to take it, it's rather unsurprising that Bischoff's album escaped widespread notice last year as he seems more than content to work from the sidelines, providing all the tools for an impressive victory while taking so very little of the credit. A humble record bursting not only with talent but a myriad of ideas skillfully employed.

Get a taste of the brilliant record with this sampler from Brassland:

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