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Brazelton / Naphtali — What Is It Like to Be a Bat?
(Tzadik Z 7707, 2003, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2003-12-01

What Is It Like to Be a Bat? Cover art

The opening tracks offer sweet bits of melodic a capella and seemingly lighthearted lyrics mixed with grinding industrial guitars, experimental ambient bits and noisy cacaphonic interludes, all juxtaposed for maximum dynamic effect; this disc of what might be characterized as chamber punk pushes all the buttons and stretches all the boundaries to deliver an artful palette of sonic extremities. Brazelton is of course Kitty Brazelton on electric bass, samples, processing and vocals — who is no stranger to the pages of Exposé; vocalist and guitarist Dafna Naphtali shares the composition credits with Brazelton as well as the many overdubbed vocal harmonies that at times makes this sound like the work of a much larger chorus and ensemble. Danny Tunick supports the duo with drums, voice, additional bass, samples, and recorder, track depending, while Paul Geluso adds additional voice and filtering. While the instrumental mix tends to be jarring, noisy, and intentionally abrasive at times, what carries and balances the mix are the superb vocals which soar and envelop the compositions, expressive and varied, from gentle whispers to powerful belting to spoken bits, working like subtle counterpoint to offset the otherwise edgy proceedings and sonic explorations. Although I’m occasionally reminded of Charming Hostess, early (explorative) Frank Zappa, The Residents, and Ruins, there are really no reference points that make for easy comparisons here — this is truly a groundbreaking and unique listening experience.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 28, 2003 releases

Related artist(s): Kitty Brazelton

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