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(Dielectric Records)

Brian Fraser and Chris Palmatier met almost 10 years back while in college in North Carolina. After finding themselves both in California just over a year later, they started collaborative work on a soundtrack for an independent movie being made by a friend. The simply stated Brian_And_Chris was born at that time and the duo simply started creating music that they liked while throwing particular genre ideas out the window. Following a release in both 1999 and 2000, the two settled down a bit on their musical work and opened a studio a couple years later. With the release of 3, they should easily gain some more notice.

Compared to their Vectors release of 2000, this album is by far more realized and thought-out. Whereas that previous release really did sound like a couple guys simply tinkering around in the studio and trying to make some interesting songs, the tracks on 3 almost all have a clear flow with builds and falls and occasionally downright awesome bits. "Action-Packed Vacation" opens the release and as filtered guitars slide and flow around the beginning, a piano chord progression enters while a drum machine beat keeps things in time. As the track folds back, real drums slide into the mix and give everything a bit more punch while pretty guitars and piano melodies weave around one another. At 6 minutes, the track weaves through several different section and eventually settles in on a melodic groove that recalls the quieter work by Mice Parade.

"Crossing" sounds like it could have fallen right off a film soundtrack (particularly a spy flick of some sort) as a simple chime melody lingers over a stuttering and super-heavy rhythm section. About halfway through, the track morphs into something almost completely different as guitars take front and center while the drums again pound away. The middle-section of the album takes things down a notch as "Matin" again weaves through several sections and runs a rather epic 12 minutes while "Hey Rube" mixes in some almost southern-fried blues guitars with programmed beats, live drumming and juicy synths. Perhaps the oddest thing is that it all seems to work. While the group sounds like different things at different times (from the post-rock of Tortoise to almost melodic IDM), they never at all sound like anyone in particular and the wide variety of sounds at play on the disc is refreshing. Although there are plenty of studio tricks on the release (the duo considers it the primary instrument in their music), they're never overwhelming and usually help to just blur the line between electronic and organic elements. An assured release from the duo, this is an excellent little disc that I've found myself coming back to time and time again.

Rating: 7.5