'A First-rate education'


MARK: 63/100

As many know, despite our name, we sometimes end up with covering styles far from Rock. After some days of indecision, I have opted for reviewing the debut of this one-man project because for the most part it is not commercial music, it has a sense and a connection to the rest of what we deal with.

Basically it is electronic music 95% made with an old Thinkpad IBM without pre-made loops nor extended samples, mostly instrumental and deignly produced, although more clarity would be necessary and it would have just been achieved through a noisegate. The record is rich with interludes and contains a Hip-hop introduction, "I Will".
Yes, it doesn't start well, but the positive surprises arrive with the second track, "Ascendance", symphonic, atmospheric but not very dark, with keyboard sounds that make it balanced between E.L.P. and Yes on one side, and Dj Shadow on the other one, while the following "Done" is a bit more mysterious, even if it remains in a relaxing environment sustained by a trumpet-like base.
Trip-hop beats, female vocals, Gregorian chants, Dj Shadow-like scratches and sad symphonies constitute the bones of "Just A Little Touch".
A base dear to many rappers including Eminem opens "5th and the Pine", but this song is the best assembled: penetrating scratches, real bass lines, male vocals from a radio, eccellent choice of corrosive effects, a central part that sounds like Marylin Manson remixed by a Londoner Dj. From songs like this you can understand composer Robert Bryant has talent and a good vision of music that just needs to be refined, centred and darkened.
The innovation doesn't belong here and the biggest proof of that is "Some Old-fashioned Techno"; the title says it all, and things don't improve with the follower, "Trendy" and with "Happy Hardcore Experiment", boring and foreseeable. I have never liked discos nor raves, yet these tracks are truly enjoyable to listen to as background music while being blowjobbed in the shade of an exotic beach, but this is not enough: this is undoubtely the weakest and most shameful part of the CD. Luckily Bob remembers he can be a tough guy if he strives to and a good product like "Twilight Session" makes my good humour come back: imagine the best of programming, effects and songwriting of Dj Shadow and Dj Spooky melted and you will get a clear idea of this composition that seems inspired by alien invasions.
A heavy guitar riff opens and closes "Interlude", a strange song preceding "Fly", a pleasant Chill-out construct stuffed with appreciable solutions inserted into its 3' 48" of songwriting.
The last track to mention is the closer "Rave on", first a lazy downtempo then franticly pulsing, ready for the dancefloor. Not bad, even if the summits of Junkie XL are far.

Once the creator of this project finds a riper way to build songs, we will have found an important new name to the scene. So far only disco or rave goers can enjoy it, but the true estimators of Techno music and electronic music in general (DJ Shadow, Toby Emerson, RJD2, Dune, Crystal Method, Non-Prophets, DJ Spooky, Nine Inch Nails, Thievery Corporation, The Streets) will feel the lack of backbone to a part of the album. Let's wait for Mr. Bryant to get a bit older; it is just a matter of time.


Line-up on this record:
Robert Bryant, keyboards, programming

Robert Bryant, 97 Bay State Road, Boston, MA 02215- USA
Official sites:

A first rate education (CD - 2006)