Brutter Brutter

[Hubro; 2015]

Styles: interlocking drum patterns and sound effects
Others: computer algorithm

Brutter is just enough. Brutter is just two brothers, Christian and Fredrik Wallumrod. The record is called Brutter. Doesn’t Brutter have an interesting sound to it? The rhythms on the record are stubborn and staccato, neither wholly electronic nor all instrumental, and the way it’s mixed, you can’t tell where one ends and the other begins. This record sort of sounds like how thinking feels.

“Geigered” builds up from wet bass murmurs to a complex rhythmic showcase that had me entranced. It takes these frustrating, arrogant little rhythms — off-beat kicks, dense bass plucks, hi-hats like someone knocking angrily on your door, everything out of sync — and manages to structure them together so that it’s just barely not a mess. It pulls them into orbit, then lets them swing out.

Brutter isn’t really a beat anyone can dance to in the traditional sense. There is too much off-kilter squawking and ping-ponging. The beat this band makes never uses any standard timings. It’s more as if the drums are speaking. The rhythms on Brutter contract, phase, and expand. It’s a conversation, being passed around a few different samples, an agreement being reached. A song gradually develops by consensus, it seems, then refines itself with each repetition, then changes the subject, then disagrees again, etc.

“Radiopuls” is half the things you want to avoid in a recording: all the feedback, all the dryness, all the muddy lows and fry of the instruments and weird microphone placement; all the false takes and bad starts before a totally different song. But with some well-placed snares and squawks and it becomes an engrossing experiment. Small musical sentences are pulled out of distorted, unlikely, and damp places. A few bursts of sonic clutter happen at aesthetically-appealing intervals. The simplest, plainest events are being presented as the entire musical picture, and yet Brutter make it convincing with their confidence, never slipping, steadily ascending a towering mass of insouciant drumplay.

The Hubro press release describes Brutter almost as if an algorithm or a machine were generating its own dance music, and I’d have to agree. The way each note corresponds and contributes to each song feels very skeletal, very essential, chosen for efficiency but not always musicality. “Badminton Bleak” has an opening few minutes that are simply bass notes rising and falling, shifting off slightly for a flat cross-stick or two. It just skirts the line between a sort of subterranean groove and inert nothingness, but it never goes over that line either way, not all the way. Nothing ever slips out of place. Brutter’s kind of comforting like that, even with its harshness and skewed positioning.

If in fact Brutter is not actually a music-generating algorithm on a computer somewhere, and it is actually two brothers, it’s incredible that they’re able to sustain these conflicting musical tensions on so little material, in so strange an order, without ever dropping the beat. Brutter is a stubborn and well-crafted collision of dense sound, all timbre and rumble, all deep hum and purr and potential energy, but forever patient. Brutter’s like a car easing along a flat road. Someone’s applying just a little gas here and there to push it along, just enough at just the right time to keep the ride going smooth. “Brutter brutter brutter,” the car says.

Links: Hubro

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