Brotherly ‘Analects’ 180g 2LP/CD (Whirlwind Recordings) 4/5

‘Analects’ is the new compilation project from musical duo, Brotherly, which both celebrates their past releases as well as their new partnership with the UK’s Whirlwind Recordings.

Comprised of vocalist Anna Stubbs and multi-instrumentalist Rob Mullarkey, ‘Analects’ provides something of a welcome retrospective of the eclectic and dynamic releases that were famed for drawing heavy inspiration from the broken beat culture the duo were immersed in. With broken beat really rising to prominence in the 1990s and spearheaded by pioneering names like 4hero, Bugz in the Attic and IG Culture, both Stubbs and Mullarkey, although coming from a jazz studies background, were very much taken by the genre-fusing elements of their two respective worlds into what would ultimately become Brotherly.

With their first single released in 2005 through Bitasweet – featuring additional vocals from ESKA and an accompanying remix from Bugz in the Attic – the broken beat bounce of ‘Put It Out’ served as an excellent introduction to Brotherly’s free-flowing musical intentions. Second single ‘Searching’, a brilliantly diverse track that typified their various fusion of styles, followed in 2007 which was swiftly followed by their debut full-length effort ‘One Sweet Life’.

Although Brotherly’s last album was actually released in 2010 (‘Find First Light’), Stubbs and Mullarkey have both continued to make music through various projects since that time. While Stubbs can cite having provided vocals for albums by Feeder and Grant Nicholas, Mullarkey’s extensive credentials have seen him provide production and session work for artists ranging from Richard Spaven to Andrew McCormack and Jordan Rakei.

So, yes, it’s a natural question to ask about what new Brotherly music would sound like now after all this time and the life experiences accumulated for each since. While the new association with Whirlwind issues a level of hope that we’ll receive a definitive answer to that question in due time, there’s more than enough teasers on ‘Analects’ to strongly indicate what we could expect. Firstly, there’s the inclusion of the previously unreleased track, ‘The Code’ – an excellent inclusion, as are the reworks of three tracks each featuring a series of guests that exemplify the varied styles and approaches that have always been a part of Brotherly’s music. The tirelessly prolific Kaidi Tatham – himself an artist that comfortably straddles that line between broken beat and jazz – guests on ‘Raindown’ layering the track with synths and flute; jazz pianist Jason Rebello jumps in for the predominately instrumental rendition of the sublime ‘World in a World’ and Motema Records recording artist, Donny McCaslin, provides saxophone for the gem that is ‘DTs’.

While there are certainly songs that unapologetically epitomise the broken beat influences they were inspired by, more of the tracks here highlight that exciting mish-mash of styles that Brotherly brought to the table from 2005 and which still sound as innovative now as they did upon initial release. Again, that nagging question lingers about ‘what would new Brotherly music sound like today?’. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait too much longer to find out.

Imran Mirza