Long Arm
The Branches



by Kevin K USER (58 Reviews)
September 17th, 2011 | 13 replies

Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Satisfying, but maybe The Branches' arms aren't long enough to reach out like they should.

Anyone can rifle through a pile of artists, sift out what they like and dislike, then move on. Casual listeners, adventurous at heart, tend to do this the most, picking up more and leaving more in the dust. Even artists they thought were good could be out of the picture after a month or 2, simply because there’s more to see and little reason to stick around. I get that, to a certain degree. But like friends, it’s good to cultivate relationships and dig deeper past the surface of things. After all, aren’t everyone’s favorite albums the ones they harpooned the deepest with their attention?

In the case of the album in question, Long Arm’s The Branches, the pile of artists belongs to hip-hop and electronic, more specifically those inspired by the likes of Flying Lotus and Boards of Canada.

Initially, Long Arm sounds like your run-of-the-mill Flying Lotus wannabe. You’ll notice this on the first 2 tracks of The Branches, “Power of Rain” and “The Waterfall Inside Me”, which gives the album a pretty lame introduction. Once you reach track 3, “Double Bass In Love”, Long Arm’s spin on the generic formula and personal touches begin to reveal themselves. The mellow introduction kicks it off, where laid-back pianos and trumpets begin to soar above the slow, jazzy hip-hop beats, at which point you can tell The Branches is going to be a bit more elegant from here on out.

In the vein of Boards of Canada, Branches borrows mostly from their nostalgic ambiance. Unlike Boards, and despite the album artwork and title, the underlying motif is less organic and more oriented to the big city and urban life. The jazz influence is pretty heavy. With "After 4am", there's a sound that delivers Capone-era gangster charisma, and several tracks use trumpets and horns almost with a swing influence to them. So the nostalgia is still there, its just less generalized and seems to nod to a more specific time gone by. It's all part of what makes Branches a bit refreshing from your dime-a-dozen electronic acts.

Everything else is still there though, like the skittering beats, brief voice samples and daydreamy aesthetic. I wouldn’t base this record off of first impressions, as there’s certainly more than it first seems, but there still may not be enough here to distinguish the record for some listeners. Once the ball is rolling, the record delivers on most accounts, save for the occasion when a song slips back into generic tongues. In the end, Long Arm’s debut may not garner a cult following but it’s completely likeable and worth coming back to. Casual listeners, like said above, might let this slip under their radar, but those who appreciate subtle changes to a common sound will find that Branches has rewards for those who dig a bit deeper.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
September 17th 2011


Album Rating: 3.0

terrible summary

been in a state of writer's block lately, hope this review accomplishes something

Digging: Sachiko M, Toshimaru Nakamura & Otomo... - Good Morning Good Night

September 17th 2011


Album Rating: 3.0

was just listening to this the other night. kinda agree with the sentiment of summary, so dont worry about the awful pun (ok its not that bad).

Staff Reviewer
September 17th 2011


Review's ok - so imma pos - but you're right in saying this is nowhere near your best, Kevin. Keep working at it though, yeah?

Wish I could say something more interesting but I know nothing about this band hahah.

Digging: Portishead - Dummy

September 17th 2011


Album Rating: 3.0

yeah I must say I'm not feeling this one as much. I thought I'd try and spark a creative surge. appreciate it though, Irving

September 17th 2011


I thought about reviewing this but I'm still afraid of reviewing. Thanks Washboard for finally putting one up for this album, it deserves it. I liked this better than you did though, I think the "daydreamy aesthetic" that you described is what really makes me love this. I'm a sucker for that kind of feeling. The jazz influence is great too, and After 4 AM is my favorite track from this. I can't get enough of it. The sound of that muted trumpet is just sublime.

September 17th 2011


Album Rating: 3.0

thanks man, I appreciate it.
It really is a solid album, some songs are more bland than others but there's just something stylish here and jazzy that makes it quite appealing.

After 4am is one of my favorites too, btw

October 8th 2011


Yeeeeeeeah high five silent

November 23rd 2012


this is awesome

December 24th 2012


Album Rating: 4.0

This is really nice

Digging: The Birthday Massacre - Superstition

May 6th 2013


Album Rating: 4.0

needs more love this thing here does

Digging: Emptiness - Nothing but the Whole

July 31st 2013


Album Rating: 5.0

"Branches has rewards for those who dig a bit deeper."

There is a lot of depth to this album, it's just really subtle. The production style reminds me a lot of Burial's newer works.

August 11th 2013


Album Rating: 4.0

Seed to a tree this is great.

Digging: King Buzzo - This Machine Kills Artists

August 9th 2014


Album Rating: 4.0

It's grown to an oak within a year

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