Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Funkrust Brass Band gives you something you’ve never heard before

December 5, 2019

Post-apocalyptic disco-punk? Funkrust Brass Band’s Bones and Burning redefines eclectic cool with its eighteen-piece band of shiny brilliance. At its core, multi-instrumentalist Phil Andrews’s music (Rude Mechanical Orchestra, Gay Panic, Apocalypse Five & Dime) and Ellia Bisker’s lyrics (Charming Disaster, Sweet Soubrette) wrap listeners in a party of sound.

Bones and Burning trips into a musical playing field like the bastard of a traditional marching band who met its dream lover. The child birthed glimmers of the genius of Talking Head’s David Byrne, rich in indie vibe. Also, art rock folks that miss Bowie will find solace in Funkrust Brass Band’s debut EP and its otherworldly ambiance. 

Listeners are welcomed in to “Open House Fire” and its halftime-at-a-football-party feel. Musically, Funkrust creates familiarity within the surreal–that is, until Bisker’s biting vocal cuts through the party. Featuring frenetic brass swimming in vast pools of talent and no lack of creativity, “Bones and Burning” struts a tango of angsty trumpet proclamation. This is heady, haunting, poetic stuff, but the band is displaying reality in its lyrics.

Fans of stop-motion animation will deeply enjoy the claymation of “Uncanny Carnival”; the video enhances the carnival-barker-style dissonance of Bisker’s vocals. Originality can be strangely comforting, and each hollow cymbal strike makes this a carnival I want to attend! 

“Terminus” is a stunning closer to the EP. It features a quick tempo matched by the speedy vocals, and the disjointed feel of the track fits with a subtext of the record. It’s a dark message about those with no strategy to impact or affect change, and it closes the EP perfectly.

Beyond the credited 18-piece band, there’s a lot of personnel that helps Funkrust happen: Heather Vaughan’s strong illustration and Matthew Cain’s strong cover design are consistent with the overall tone of the music. The EP was recorded and mixed by engineer Michael Kamm at The Dreamfield and mastered by Stefan Heger. If you’ve got a marching band, then you have to have a choreographer. And yes, Funkrust has a choreographer that plays a part in live performance. Ultimately, the band creates a uniquely cinematic, post-apocalyptic vibe worth getting lost in here. —Lisa Whealy


Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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