Noel Brass Jr. "Broken Cloud Orchestra" Review in The Wire Magazine

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"It would be easy to mistake Broken Cloud Orchestra for a long lost smooth keyboard jazz album from the early 1970s. The cosmic synthesizers and warm organ tones conjure images of a woodgrain-lined recording studio with soft shag carpet. But there's nothing from the 70s that sounds quite like this album - if there were, it would be a classic. There is an affinity between Brass's instrumental compositions and the softer side of Herbie Hancock, Bob James, Stevie Wonder, and Weldon Irvine, but theres also a kosmische aura that makes them feel like soulful cousins of the 21st century new age revival. Around Seattle, Brass can be seen gigging regularly as a member of Afrocop, an energetic psych-jazz fusion project that serves as the de facto house band at Vito's, a vintage 50s cocktail lounge with tall leather booths and mirrored walls. It looks like the kind of place where Mafia deals get made, because it is that place. Environments like these are an inspiration to Brass, who approaches composition like a director building a mise-en-scène. With a broad range of sounds, Brass creates tracks that house and embody complex moods. The album opens with "Cortex Overflow", a sweet piece of phased out ambient jazz with a melodic synth line that dominates like a neon light blazing across the heavens. "Day In Day Out" pairs a crisp piano tone with a B3 organ pad, created with a versatile Nord Stage keyboard. On "Deceptive Freefall", the chords become more dissonant and the synths a bit more menacing. This textured cloud cover becomes a smokey base for "Tilted North" and "Visual Pyramid Scheme", both atmospheric dirges with a slightly darker tinge. The could clear for "Eight Moons Apart" and are replaced by the funkiest synth tones on the album. "The Weight Lightened By Morning" conveys a feeling of tentative optimism, and "Prism Jousting" further reveals a distinctive range of tones and textures, delivering a lush orchestra mood. "It's Not Sunday But It Will Do" develops from meandering background music into a dramatic statement of tension and release, while the assertive, soundtracky pads "Fleeting All Too Often" edge into John Carpenter territory. "Systematically Doused In Love" is a cool down in a warm shower, closing the album with contemplation and gentle intensity." -Emily Pothast