Sunday, April 20, 2014


Chicago duo Brash Flair, comprised of Kristin Johnston and  Joshua Wentz, put out their second EP simply titled Two this month, and I was asked to give it a listen. I did so, and found it enjoyable enough to review it. In all of my prior reviews, I've had some insight into the artist prior to the review. This was not the case with Brash Flair, however. So it was a Google expedition as well for me. I discovered their Facebook page, which was quite informative in their process.

And it's interesting, a mixture of whatever works, incorporating many diverse sources from samples to software synths, and everything in between. Kristin's beautiful voice is set against a rich, and yet spare at times, background of interesting sound design in every piece. I found myself listening to the pieces several times to listen to the samples  instrumentation, vocals, and effects processing. A very engaging active listening experience for me, and enjoyable.

The first tune, Good Morning, is a fitting start. Starting with a simple, very bassy pulse, the electric piano tone provides it's simple structure. Like much of the work, the setting is sleepy and almost surreal.

I really loved Blanket of Blue  which uses samples of a rainy day in a Chicago apartment as it's basis. The piano softly holds down the piece, couching Johnston's vocal in a dreamy contented space. Perfect for a summer rainstorm. In the video for it, the art of Kriss Stress is used, from the jacket art for the EP.

Your Line is an infectious electro piece, an esoteric  collage of sampled vocals over a rich background of synth, sample and ebowed bass.

Simple and spare, with pocket piano and appropriately simple guitar Sleeping has a beautiful vibe. As usual, the dreamy, sumptuous vocals float beautifully in the mix.

Ready is a piece in a rolling fast 3/4, featuring simple tenor background vocals from Joshua, which offset the Kristin's lead nicely. It wraps up the EP well.

I found the collection cohesive, which I always find enjoyable, as I prefer listing to works from a single artist in a sitting. This really engaged my listening, and I can heartily recommend this EP. I also enjoyed the album art very much, and the package appeals to my design sense. You can find the album for download in many places, but if you order the limited edition CD, you will get this wonderful package with fabulous art by Kriss Stress.