Album: Jaimie Branch – Fly or Die Fly or Die Fly or Die ((world war))

(Photo by Ben Semisch, courtesy of Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts)

From International Anthem comes Fly or Die Fly or Die Fly or Die ((world war)), the final album by Jaimie Branch, the late illustrious trumpet player. With only a few minor changes to be made before releasing it to the world, collaborators of the trumpeter finished the work Branch had intended to do herself, delivering an epic piece of art that’s wholly Branch and a testament to the impact she had on the world of music.

Fly or Die Fly or Die Fly or Die ((world war)) makes its entrance with a very grand, very hymnal sound. The album’s impact is immediate, and by the second song, the frustration she was feeling at the time of recording, whatever its source may have been, is felt through its dizzying melody. The third track, “burning grey,” is particularly poignant thanks to the conspicuous trumpet sounds, the raging lyrics sung by Branch, and the sonic equivalent of a riot in the middle of the track.

By the time we’re to the fourth track, the dynamism that defined Branch also defines Fly or Die thanks to a completely different sound, one that’s almost funereal while remaining very folksy. In what now seems a prescient decision, this album is the perfect way to memorialise Branch, both literally and figuratively, as different tracks serve as the backdrop to different stages of grief – “the mountain”: sadness, “bolinko bass”: acceptance, with “baba louie” being an outright celebration of her life and music.

Jaimie Branch’s musicality was something to be admired, and she selflessly shared her gift with the world. Her impression and talent will live on in song, and Fly or Die Fly or Die Fly or Die ((world war)) will go down as one of her best albums.

Acacia Deadrick

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