Best of 2017 #02: Jaimie Branch – “Fly or Die” (International Anthem)


The music of Jaimie Branch is constructed with the sounds of things falling apart.  Fly or Die is the echo of metal ripped in half and set to fire with wires as the kindling.  It’s not pretty, and yet it has a serious allure.  It’s laid back and casual, and yet has a charismatic appeal that locks the attention in place.  And when it all comes together with a laser beam melody and harmonic surge breaking through the dissonance like the morning dawn through darkness, everything just falls into place and begins making sense again.  The trumpeter’s core unit of cellist Tomeka Reid, bassist Jason Ajemian and drummer Chad Taylor are birds-of-a-feather, and certainly no stranger to the art of building through deconstruction.  These are musicians that see the poetry of decay, and how that leads to the rebirth of things anew.  Jaimie Branch’s debut album not only cycles through both states, but gives the impression that they’re not viewed as even being separate.  Everything about this album is different.  It’s a strange vision Branch delivers, and yet it’s so simple to embrace.  In a year that saw an astounding collection of singular displays of personality, Branch’s stands out as the most individualistic.  This easily could’ve been the album of the year.

Music from NYC and Chicago.

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