bEEdEEgEE is the moniker for the solo project by Brian McGraw of Gang Gang Dance. The debut album SUM/ONE is a kalidescopic listen of instrumentals, each piece shifting throughout the album. SUM/ONE also features occasional vocals from the likes of Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor to Lovefoxxx of CSS. The album is an interesting break for McGraw from Gang Gang Dance’s constant improvised music, but it isn’t entirely as successful as one might hope.
Each track is bizarre and made up of elements that seem like they shouldn’t work together but do. It is as though McGraw took what typically makes up a song and changed the ingredients to make an unexpected, but pleasantly surprising track. “Bricks” swirls around with a low womping, dubstep-like bass drop, distorted pop vocals, staccato drums, chimes, and a string and possibly flute sample, and that is perhaps only a third of the identifiable of the sounds that create the somewhat danceable beat. Even though each track on SUM/ONE is quite distinct, the similarities in each song’s structure gets repetitive.
SUM/ONE occupies a strange sonic space where Diplo, Animal Collective, Neon Indian, McGraw’s own Gang Gang Dance, and a disposal for unwanted samples all collide.
It is disappointing that McGraw stays within what could be called his comfort zone. He is accustomed to Gang Gang Dance’s experimentation, which is a large part of SUM/ONE. It doesn’t sound like a solo project because it is in tune to some of what Gang Gang Dance has created.
“F.U.T.D. (Time of Waste)” features Alexis Taylor and is one of the stronger tracks on SUM/ONE. At times the combination of sounds and ideas overwhelms the production, but other times it is just enough. McGraw needed to edit some of the tracks or simplify how his many ideas were going to be heard and arranged. They are indeed intriguing, multifaceted tracks, but they overwhelm rather than resonate.
The transitions within tracks as well as between tracks needed to be smoother at times too. Indeed there is intentional chaos and juxtaposition, but one an hear where the edges were less intentional, the tracks “(intellectual property),” a creepy little instrumental, and circus-like digital slight clusterfuck “Helium Anchor” being examples of when McGraw falls short. “Flowers” is enough of a straight forward sunny pop song that it sounds out of place on SUM/ONE. The album sounds like McGraw was eager to work on his own to the point where just project nearly exploded. Each track is a multimedia collage and sometimes he needs to figure out when and where to stop.
SUM/ONE makes for interesting tunes, but doesn’t grab attention. Even though many things are happening, they fall by the wayside and don’t demand listener attention. SUM/ONE is indeed interesting, especially because of each track’s composition. McGraw’s intentions sound clear, but he should have pushed himself in a different direction and tried to avoid the clutter.
bEEdEEgEE – SUM/ONE tracklist:
- Helium Anchor
- Like Rain Man
- Empty Vases
- (F.U.T.D.) Time of Waste
- (intellectual property)
- Quantum Poet Riddim