When Deadmau5 graces the cover of Rolling Stone and Swedish House Mafia sells out Madison Square Garden, a Berlin-based trio making “acoustic techno” might sound a bit old-fashioned. Don’t tell that to the Brandt Brauer Frick Ensemble: They’ve been spending the past four years reinventing beats from the ground up with classical instruments deftly tweaked for maximum dance effect.
“We were always interested in making techno tracks with classical music,” says Daniel Brandt, who grew up in Cologne playing drums and listening to Herbie Hancock and the Stones. When he met Jan Brauer in college, they formed the experimental jazz duo Scott, which soon morphed into BBF with the addition of Paul Frick. In 2008 the group recorded their debut, You Make Me Real, in Brandt’s mother’s garage using horns, strings, rainsticks, glockenspiels, and untuned pianos. The album, which drew comparisons to Kraftwerk, John Cage, and Steve Reich, laid the groundwork for their epic live shows, which range between high-brow concert hall fare to four-on-the-floor dance parties at Coachella.
The Brandt Brauer Frick Ensemble performs their song “606 ‘n’ Rock ‘n’ Roll”
“It’s good to change the settings,” Brandt says. “It would get boring if we were only playing seated events at seven o’clock in the evening.” He and his bandmates are scratching another itch with the new sound on their forthcoming album, Miami, which is due out in January. “It’s more rough and dirty and raw,” explains Brandt, who also notes that they’ve incorporated vocals from soul singer Jamie Lidell and adorned the strings of their grand piano with paper clips. “It gives it a really distorted sound—sort of a rock n’ roll approach,” he says.
The stateside debut of their new 10-piece ensemble takes place at Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park Bandshell tomorrow, followed by a more rocking set with just the stripped-down trio at Santos Party House on Friday.
www.brandtbrauerfrick.de; Lincoln Center Damrosch Park Bandshell, Thursday August 2, 7:30 pm, www.lcoutofdoors.org; Santos Party House, Friday August 3, doors at 7pm, www.santospartyhouse.com.
Photos: Harry Weber