Friday 26 April 2024

'Hegemonitized' + 'Bad Magic' by Bright Dog Red

Bright Dog Red's series of releases through Ropeadope Records have disclosed a fascinating narrative over the years.  Sold as an improvisational jazz ensemble from New York, the band's album releases to date have mostly served as an extension of their live experience with even their studio projects opting to stay true to their improvising roots.

And if we were to actually surmise the band's overarching narrative, the word that seems the most pertinent would probably be "evolution".  So much of Bright Dog Red's successes - whether that relate to their albums or simply their key moments - are rooted within the notion of their consistently evolving perspectives.  Evolution has certainly been prevalent when assessing the band's line-up which has seen its fair share of personnel changes over the years with the current iteration able to boast the bass wizardry of Tim Lefebvre who officially joined the group in 2022; But perhaps the biggest shift in Bright Dog Red's presentation has been found within the music itself...  

Introduced initially via their debut 'Means to the End' as an eclectic improvised ensemble embracing electronica and hip-hop, subsequent album releases have found Bright Dog Red plunge their music deeper within an electronica-meets-psychedelia soundscape that sees the band shift the genre's boundaries further afield with each album.  And with the band's latest offerings - 'Bad Magic' and 'Hegemonitized' - the unhindered narrative unfolds into inspired levels of imagination and ultimately spawning two separate albums, each with their own identities, concepts and motivations.  

But before we delve deeper into the make-up of each album, in keeping with the conversation about evolution, both, 'Bad Magic' and 'Hegemonitized', continue a technique started from the Bright Dog Red album 'Under the Porch'.  Having used the improvisational approach throughout their past releases, 'Under the Porch' (2022) saw the group begin to structure their music more which became something of a necessary change of approach in light of the global pandemic and the quarantine restrictions enforced at that time.  But as evolution would dictate, the group have continued to adapt in utilizing those recording techniques and employing them alongside what brought them to the table - "creating foundational tracks on which other members could overdub ideas", as described on their Bandcamp page.

Spearheaded by drummer and bandleader Joe Pignato, the recording sessions were initially to comprise what would have been the sixth Bright Dog Red album but when assessing how the sessions were coming together, Pignato was intuitive enough to discern that the project was capturing two distinct threads thus affording them each two distinct platforms.  Alongside Pignato on drums and Lefebvre on bass, Bright Dog Red is further made-up of guitarist Tyreek Jackson, bassist Anthony Berman, Martín Loyato and Mike LaBombard on trumpet and saxophone respectively, Cody Davies on electronics and spoken word by Matt Coonan, and both projects continue to demonstrate the collective's versatility and openness to exploration within their music.  

Releasing two albums on the same day serves as bold a move as an artist can put forth and it's a real testament to the belief that Ropeadope have in Bright Dog Red that such creative freedoms have been afforded to them.  The journey very much continues for Bright Dog Red.

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