So far, across the various artists we have featured as Alphabet Bands, we have covered a number of different musical styles. There exists a common thread that runs through each one though, regardless of genre or aural predilection. That thread is one of undeniable talent and ability to make music that is really quite special. It runs through our latest member of the fabled Alphabet as well, as does our eclectic love of multiple genres.
We must confess, when New York-based composer Rebecca Brandt emailed a few months back to draw our attention to her debut album, Numbers & Shapes, her correspondence very nearly drowned in the swell of submissions we receive. The mail found its way back to the surface somehow, clinging to flotsam and jetsam until we retrieved it, dried it off and sat down to hear its tale. Since then her album of 14 original instrumental compositions has made itself at home on our stereo, delighting us time and again with soaring cinematic soundscapes, delicate piano melodies and percussion that will get under your skin.
That it seems cinematic in places is no accident. Brandt also writes and scores for film and multimedia projects from across the globe and there are a number of tracks that feel as though they should accompany a narrative. Be it at the ballet, theatre or cinema, her work has an unquestionable visual quality, regardless of the genre she has chosen to work in. For, while the pieces on offer have been orchestrated for over 30 instruments and Rebecca herself is a classically trained pianist, they do not exist exclusively within the realm of traditional classical music. Her influences are varied and wide-ranging and each track draws on different aspects. Jazz, electronica, rock, ambient, each feature to varying degrees and all play their part in the careful craftsmanship of a series of tracks, each one with a unique identity yet they feel as one with the other 13.
The individuality of the tracks could cause the album to take on the mannerisms of a rollercoaster ride, pitching and hurling the listener from style to style, purposefully dropping and swinging, making stomachs churn and head’s swim. Not so, the styles and sounds may vary to a degree but the turns are not violent, the drops are not dramatic and the listener is caressed, not hurled along.
It is easy to get lost in hyperbole when discussing an album such as this, and we are not exactly shy when it comes to hyperbole at the best of times, but it is also easy to get lost in the strings, in the intricate piano melodies, in the soft woodwind, in the vibrant rhythms and in the collective dreaminess that is Numbers & Shapes.