The continual tempo changes are enough to spin shoulders around and warp the sense of what jazz is. More influenced by the abstract sound rather than the rules of a product, Brain is graceful throughout but holds the idea of being a wildly untamed animal. The opening piece “Kung-Fu World Champion” is a quick dive to cover under the gaze of these rapid pushes to the foreground with a funky, but still lightning quick use of percussion and keys. It feels as if Herbie Hancock did Adderall and proceeded to perform all his most intricate works at the same time.
Not exactly on the level of a Captain Beefheart that is primarily just uses of noise, Hiromi has rhythm. She is an expert behind these segues and movements that really captures an essence of performance art behind the vibrant style. Still, in the most electrifying moments, Brain is a race that can be followed even if that race is a triathlon.
On the following track, “If…” there is a much more hesitant approach to the song writing and delivery. Hiromi is not in quite a dash as it is a jog that picks up and rides down gently. “If…” still has a deeply layered system behind it, but the gentle piano touches where the raging keys were present before. This style then transposes into “Wind Song” which is another moving piece that relies more on the softness than the blitzing action. These two tracks are more of a collective of emotional peace than the rest of the album which nose dives at every opportunity.
Hiromi can be a true monster of performance that relies on pure muscle memory as her hands must look as a blur through the entire piece. When there are moments of breaks, the band behind her is still moving and motioning in these sudden, almost sonic pieces of pleasure. Brain is an absolute blast of progression that few artists can capture within a trio.
With an album that stems just over the hour mark, Brain is a highly diverse piece of intense moments of rising actions and falling stars. From the overpowering momentum of speedy rushes through piano chords to the final moments of silence; Brain is a difficult piece to pin down and even harder to grasp.