Get Lots of Brighton Beat – It’s All Good
The Brighton Beat are at Spike Hill in Wiliamsburg tonight, Nov 24. Not only are the band’s studio recordings both up as free downloads at their Bandcamp page, but they’ve also got a treasure trove of live recordings at their main site. Smart move: one taste of this will hook you for life if the most psychedelic side of Afrobeat or reggae is your thing. The eleven-piece band’s songs are long, going on for as much as ten minutes at a clip in the studio and longer onstage. Their formula is unhurried yet very tightly focused: introduce the hook and then follow that with slowly unwinding, casually crescendoing solos. Nobody overplays, and much as everybody in the band takes his time getting where he’s going, the point is that they all get there: this stuff doesn’t sound anything like Phish. For that matter, it doesn’t sound much like anybody else either. Washington’s Elikeh come to mind, but the Brighton Beat are much more of a jamband, and on the occasion that they go deep into dub, they’re very good at it.
The latest studio album opens with a trickily rhythmic, hypnotically Ethio-flavored number with elements of vintage ska. Zach Kamins’ echoey Rhodes piano solo switches to organ and then back, Mark Cocheo’s guitar goes growling and then hands off elegantly to Mark Zaleski’s alto sax. The second track, Changing Elevators is more of a straight-up Afrobeat number that vamps and meanders and then suddenly comes together out of a long Jon Bean tenor sax solo with a snarling minor-key phrase. Then the guitar does the same thing. As with several of the songs here, they band gracefully fades it down.
By contrast, Giraffe is a balmy, loping tune driven by Ryan Hinchey’s catchy bassline, raging alto sax contasting with the organ as Kamins wiggles the tremolo. Capture the Flag builds with solos from baritone sax and guitar ove a lush Isaac Hayes-style soul/funk vamp, while the darkest track on this album, The Paradox, pairs off uneasy chromatics from the keys and guitar against the horns’ fiery Ethiopiques. The album ends with twelve minutes of Indian Summer, a hypnotic, trippy dub anchored by very cleverly shifting bass beneath layers and layers of swirly atmospherics, ominous guitar and sax lines.
Be aware that some of the live shows are big files (the Ryles Jazz Club gig from this past August is practically 400 mb); you’ll want to make sure your wifi is screaming and you’ve got enough space on that flash drive.