Brant Bjork / Brant Bjork & the Operators

Brant Bjork & the Operators

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As notorious a studio rat as he isn't a fan of touring, Kyuss and Fu Manchu drummer Brant Bjork continues to expand his increasingly eclectic and respectable career with this self-named project, which, though it may suggest otherwise, effectively represents a one-man tour de force (minus keyboards, provided by one Mathias Schneeberger, and occasional guest vocalists and lead guitarists). Hands down his most diverse musical departure thus far, Brant Bjork & the Operators continues to explore Bjork's more restrained and minimalist take on the riff-based compositions of his bands past, but with increasing nods to more pop-oriented genres, most notably '80s new wave. These influences were already discreetly hinted at by his previous band project, the power trio Che, but they truly bubble to the surface here, resulting in the Devo-esque synth accents seen on opener "Hinda 65," as well as full-on keyboard interaction on "My Ghettoblaster" and the buoyant "Cheap Wine." Elsewhere, the fearless experimentation which also characterizes his former Kyuss running mates' concurrent Queens of the Stone Age endeavor continue to crop up with refreshing frequency throughout the album. Among these is the unassuming but obviously Hendrix-inspired wah-wah guitar symphony "Electric Lalli Land" and the jazzy percussion and guitar interplay combined with downtempo electronica on "Cocoa Butter." Also of note, the ultra-groovy "Captain Lovestar" features backup vocals from ex-Scream singer Franz Stahl and obtains a more convincing Stone Temple Pilots than most Stone Temple Pilots albums. Ultimately, and most importantly, all of the above experiments come off so effortlessly original and organic that despite occasional misfires ("Smarty Pants," "Joey's Radio"), one has to tip his or her hat to Bjork's purely musical instincts.

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