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Hypnotic Brass Ensemble

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble

(Honest Jon's; US: 26 May 2009; UK: 8 Jun 2009)

Before a recent surge in fortunes, the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble played on subway platforms and street corners. In other words, the band busked. But its first professionally produced album doesn’t sound amateur in the least. The nine-man ensemble (eight are brothers) plays an exuberant kind of big-band jazz that’s as cosy and comfortable as a family reunion. “Gibbous” best exemplifies this: Over an upbeat shuffle with the swung eighths of hip-hop, the higher-register horns and trombones blend flawlessly. As the eponymous album chugs along, the long, clean melodic lines and confluent harmonies take on something of the hypnotism of the group’s name. Nothing particularly innovative, but well executed. (On an unrelated note, “Party Started”, with its “I get the party started / You keep the party jumping” call and response, momentarily recalls Flight of the Conchord’s “Who Came to Rock the Party”.) Though Hypnotic Brass Ensemble is generally impressive, it may be in the live setting—whether that be outside on the street or on stage at a club—that the group likely has its greatest impact. The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble probably won’t be busking for long.


Dan Raper has been writing about music for PopMatters since 2005. Prior to that he did the same thing for his college newspaper and for his school newspaper before that. Of course he also writes fiction, though his only published work is entitled "Gamma-secretase exists on the plasma membrane as an intact complex that accepts substrates and effects intramembrane cleavage". He is currently studying medicine at the University of Sydney, Australia.

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