Label: Tri Tone Release date: 08/11/10 Link: Myspace Buy: Amazon When talking about music, particularly to my elders (and sometimes my betters), I often hear the complaint that songs these days are too simplistic, or display too little musical talent. This is obviously said to provoke a reaction but, in general, I have to agree. I don't actually think that it's always that important, but it is true that while there are a lot of musicians currently creating sonically interesting work, there are relatively few demonstrating strict musicality. It is perhaps because of this that Mt. Chimaera, the latest album by Vancouver based sextet Brasstronaut is quite so intriguing. If only for their name, or perhaps the mention of jazz in their list of influences, I approached this album a little hesitantly, but ‘Slow Knots’ the opening track completely disarmed me. It’s a sinister start, as we hear the heartbeat of a bass drum and sleigh bells built upon with broken organ notes and offhand guitar strokes. A voice echoes, “Do you really think that I betrayed you?”, before the full force of this 6 man band hits, with piano, bass, horns and yelps. By and large this album maintains the sinister atmosphere, but at times, a little shift in key changes creepy to sweetly joyful, as in ‘Hearts Trompet’; an effect which is somehow reminiscent of the Cure without sounding almost anything like them. In fact, this switch in emotional colour is another testament to Brassonaut’s talent, as while fusion records can have a tendency to focus purely upon finesse and tightness, this feels quite a personal album, and at times it is quite touching. The main fault here is that six people in a band is a lot, and writing all those instruments into a song is a difficult thing to do. As a result there are moments (‘Six Toes’ in particular) when the whole thing starts to sound like the product of the kind of ‘cool’ jazz big bands that fill 6th form college music departments. There are one too many breakdowns here, and to be perfectly honest, I don’t know if the clarinet has any place a self respecting band’s repertoire. Clearly though, Brasstronaut are a band with a huge amount of energy and talent, these weak moments are few, and infrequent enough not to taint what is a genuinely interesting and unusual record. Photobucket