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Digital Honesty by Brian Charette

Brian Charette’s "Digital Honesty" (D.H.) is wildly imaginative, ambitious , and successful. Actually integrating multiple styles into something interesting and original is a neat and rare trick. 99 out of every 100 bands/artists claiming to do this are merely placing one style next to another: not combining, but merely stacking. This not only takes less skill, but quickly becomes trite and exploitive. To actually integrate different styles you must have a deep understanding of each style. Charette is the one out of a hundred who’s music is actually synergistic. He went through his prism of styles and came out whole the other end.

Here are a few of the many styles/ideas Charette is working with on (D.H.): DJ mixing, industrial, hip-hop, 60’s soul jazz, funk, Rob Mazurek and the Chicago Underground, 90’s avant-garde groove a la MMW, etc.... Charette has created this CD entirely on his own. He produced, recorded, composed, and performed everything and this adds to the integrated nature of the music. It’s a single, undiluted vision. An ‘Auteur’ record, if you will. There are 10 relatively short tracks, but the total is greater than the sum of its parts; like a collection of thematically connected short stories that reads like a novella.

The extremes of style, brevity of tunes, and seeming hyperactivity of the compositions may remind one (in concept) of Zorn’s Naked City group. Somehow, D.H. has a ‘looser’ feel than that music. There are a few pieces which are actual tunes (head, solos, etc.... ) in the style of the Meters and 80’s period Scofield, and some that are just grooves. But most of the other music on the CD is very conceptual. Charette is using the studio as a key instrument, mixing together multiple keyboard sounds (his main instrument and he’s got major chops), prepared piano sounds, ‘found’ sounds, varied electronic drums, spoken word, and many sounds that appear synth/computer generated and at times brought to mind Star Wars’ R2D2 speaking in tongues. Sometimes these effects are used within the context of a deep groove, and other times it seems he’s created a sister genre to ‘free jazz’: ‘free mix’.

Charette had a clear idea of what he wanted to do with this record and got it done. D.H. is at once fun, introspective, personal, forward-looking, and fresh. Occasionally there’s so much going on that the music seems like a dare: to Charette to make it, and to the listener to stay with him. I suggest staying with him.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Brian Charette
  • CD Title: Digital Honesty
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2004
  • Record Label: Independent
  • Tracks: Mayhem, The Scam, Birthday Blues, London, Saving the Earth, Foonk, Time Changes, Standing Still, Free Jazz, DeeBee
  • Musicians: Brian Charette (all)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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