Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – Fly: The Customs Prelude (2013)

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble - Fly: The Customs Prelude (2013)
Artist: Hypnotic Brass Ensemble
Album: Fly: The Customs Prelude
Genre: Jazz-Funk, Brass Band
Origin: USA
Released: 2013
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps
Planet of the Aeps
Rebel Rousin
Fly (Featuring Aquilla Sadallah)
Baggage Claim
City Livin
Exchange Rate
Favella Funk
Saikou Shibuya Nights
All In
Hornets Nest
All in (Instrumental Version)
Navigator (Instrumental Version)
Saikou Shibuya Nights (Instrumental Version)
Fly (Instrumental Version)


It’s pretty easy to fall under the spell of the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – a big, bold, shiny, slick brass band that plays jazz, funk and New Orleans-styled groove tunes with a hip-hop feel. There’s a lot to like – including the back-story, eight brothers, all sons of a Sun Ra sideman, their childhood friend playing drums in support of the eight horns.

I loved them – right up until I heard them live. They sounded great, don’t get me wrong, but it just started to feel a lot like a gimmick, when you pile it all up like that, it’s fast and furious and frequently exciting but it appeals to an audience that’s excited – largely – by the gimmick.

So I was happy to return to them for Fly: The Customs Prelude, just when I thought I’d heard everything the band can do – and, it must be said, do well – we hear a whole lot of new things. The title track features a neat rap/lead vocal from Aquilla Sadallah and feels like something from one of the more recent albums by The Roots.

Baggage Claim has this hufty, almost stuffy hip-hop groove in place before the horns waft in. There’s such a lovely cruise to it when melody and rhythm come together.

City Livin brings a bigger blast of funk, building on the first few tracks and then we get more soul, more hip-hop and some neat additions to the band’s sound via more notable Latin flavours, some jazz guitar on Exchange Rate, the fiesta vibe of Favella Funk.

Their own brand new Funky Drummer bag on All In, the marching parade bedlam of Hornets hypnotic brassNest and a few kick-ass instrumental versions to close out the album; prime backbeats for bedroom remixers and budding MCs I should think.

Just when I thought I’d heard it all from this band – and every type of thing they could offer – they return with an album that’s so easy to like it would be silly not to.
by Simon Sweetman