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Tyondai Braxton

Tyondai Braxton is a figure impressive enough to fill any musician's heart with envy. As one of the guitarists in Glenn Branca's Hallucination City: Symphony for 100 Guitars and a member of Battles, with bandmates hailing from Don Caballero and Helmet/Tomahawk, Braxton has built an outstanding collaborative resume. He's carving a notable place for himself on the experimental scene with an acclaimed solo album, History That Has No Effect (released on JMZ Records), a split CD/LP with Parts & Labor called Rise, Rise, Rise (Narnack Records) and intoxicating improv-style performances.

His classical and jazz training finding its home in guitar noise, Braxton's work revolves around his skillful timing and ability to both use and throw away compositional theory. Exhibiting a talent for textured accumulation, he runs guitar, voice, beatbox and other elements through guitar pedals, layering and looping the effects to design intricate pieces so full of sound it's unbelievable all that noise could come from one person. Braxton often uses himself as an instrument with pieces consisting entirely of his processed voice, unrecognizable as mere singing and as dynamic as an orchestra. Warm guitars and moments of intelligible vocalization veer the music away from the inhuman conceits of experimentalism, reminding listeners that the songs were composed by a person -- that they don't exist of their own accord.

While the albums are flawlessly engineered, the live experience is a phenomenon that far transcends the recordings. The organic feel of Braxton's music is further intensified by his engagement in his creation process. Sitting on the floor in trancelike focus, arranging and rearranging his train of thought in audible form as if alone in his room, Braxton summons an intimacy laced with pleasant discomfort. Watching and listening, you realize your aural desires are far more disturbed than you'd ever imagined, their fulfillment more exhilarating than relations with actual people. Noise is no longer a sterile landscape, but painfully and beautifully spirited, thoughts raging into tone, killing themselves over and over in decibels even as they burst to life all the while.

Utilizing his minimal electronic setup, Braxton essentially satisfies the need for other players on his pieces. Seeing what he could do all by his lonesome, and with the occasional people who do show up to lend their hands to a cello or piano, the possibility of Braxton composing on a larger scale is astounding. While it's obvious in his use of loops and effects that he works solo in order to get things done in the ever-important here and now, Braxton's efforts transcend his own artistry, bearing implications on the entire future of experimental composition.