Hey there fellow tourists, its time again for another Souvenir of the Week! As always, I have a pretty rad one for you guys. This week’s souvenir comes all the way from the far away and extremely exotic land of Toronto, Canada. It’s an album called BBNG2.
BBNG2 is an album by the Toronto instrumental hip hop and jazz band BADBADNOTGOOD. A relatively new band, BADBADNOTGOOD formed in 2010 when the three members Matthew Tavares (keyboard, synthesizer), Chester Hansen (bass), and Alexander Sowinski (drums, sampler) met in the Humber College jazz program. Their debut album, BBNG, was released on Bandcamp back in the summer of 2011 and included jazz renditions of songs by various hip hop and rap musicians such as A Tribe Called Quest and Odd Future. This album, which was released in April 2012, follows in the same vein but also has jazz covers of songs by other types of bands like My Bloody Valentine, Feist, and James Blake. It also features a good amount of solid original songs by this Toronto trio. Now, I’m sure that at first the idea of hip hop and rap songs being transformed into jazz songs sounds weird. And yes, I would agree with that sentiment, but remember tourists weird doesn’t necessarily mean bad.
Throughout most of the tracks on BBNG2 synths are heavily utilized and have a very distinct & interesting sound. The track Vices displays this greatly with the use of vibrato, which can especially be heard starting around the two minute mark. The track CHSTR also heavily uses vibrato in the synths and can be heard right off the bat. They also use an extremely deeper sound with the synths in the first track Earl. I feel that these and other various uses of synths are what really make this a somewhat weird sounding album. However, remember that when I say weird I mean different from the norm, not bad.
Along with the interesting synths, this album has a very rich, intense, and beautiful instrumentation. The drums by Sowinski, who by the way is known for wearing a pig mask while performing (hence the album cover), sound really great. There is a lot of improvisation on his part and if you pay attention you can hear the little improvised moments he does to change up the rhythms. Both the electric piano and acoustic piano played by Tavares sound amazing, with the electric one having such an incredibly sharp and crisp sound to it while the acoustic one sounds eerie at times and hauntingly beautiful. Examples of both of theses sounds can be heard in the track Bastard/Lemonade.
As for the rest of the instrumentation I could just continue on gushing about how rich the bass sounds and how great the sax (performed by Leland Whitty) sounds, but I think it’s better if you just experience it for yourself. I personally feel that this is an incredibly solid album with interesting and fresh covers on songs by popular artists as well as astounding original tracks. My favorite tracks are: Vices, Bastard/Lemonade, Limit To Your Love, CHSTR, Flashing Lights, and DMZ. If you’re not really a fan of hip hop or rap, just think of this as a jazz or post-bop album. If you think jazz is only for hipsters and old people, just think of it as an instrumental hip hop/rap album. Either way, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next week!
P.S. – You can totally download this album for however much you feel like donating (even if you feel like donating nothing) to the band by clicking right here, then clicking BBNG2, and then clicking on the file format you most enjoy.