Review: Braeyden Jae – Flagrant Foul (Aught \ Void, May 25)

Braeyden Jae’s new full-length tape on Aught \ Void is his harshest, most challenging work yet, but also some of his most beautiful. Flagrant Foul starts with a bang thanks to opener “Fresh Fists,” immediately assaulting the listener with grating, high pitched, metallic tones. Though the track is initially very abrasive and uninviting, the snaking, twisting notes soon reveal pleasant melodies and satisfying resolutions, and by the end I am almost brought to tears by their subliminity. Jae uses similar techniques on the album’s other tracks to equal or even greater effect. Overblown, distorted harmonica-like sounds layer and coalesce into gorgeous climaxes on “Hope Threading;” piercing feedback bursts emerge from peaceful synth cycles on “Regret American;” and sun-drenched noisy drones soothe the soul on “Post Hammer.” The razor sharp edges of these overall very subdued songs somehow only magnifies their beauty, and results in Flagrant Foul being a compelling, spellbinding tape that calms and placates… but doesn’t let you drift away.