A bit of disclosure is necessary before this begins. Before I was offered this, I had absolutely no clue that Bran Van 3000 still existed past Glee.
And no, that has absolutely nothing to do with the TV show. Glee was BV3 (they even had a nickname and I was totally unaware)’s proper debut album. It had an outright sexy cover of Quiet Riot’s “Cum on Feel the Noize”, a Gravediggaz cameo on “Afrodiziac”, and an international hit in “Drinking in LA”. It was a fun album that sounded thrown-together like a patchwork quilt with several pieces mis-matched that all somehow worked great together.
Come to find out, The Garden has a very similar feel, and there’s a reason for that. Bran Van 3000, essentially, is more of a collective than a group. Jamie “Bran Man” Di Salvio serves as the nexus, with roughly 20 other musicians, producers, hip-hoppers, and even a bored socialite or two. There’s no real diversity in sound; BV3 doesn’t go from rap to punk to reggae or anything like that. Di Salvio does a fantastic job of keeping everything grounded in the mostly the same laid-back, trip-hop style. The guests are there to play and sing as needed.
By that description, The Garden would sound like a completely schizophrenic too unfocused not to be distracting or annoying. However, the record comes off as a cohesive piece, even though it has the feel of a mixtape.
Things start off on a slower note, with “A tryst” serving as a coying intro to the lonely pangs of “Garden Waltz”. The mood picks up, though, with 1-2 shots like “You” and “You Too”. The pastiche of sounds and voices blends in to a feel-good miasma of sounds, some of which sound as home in a club as they do at home with a pair of headphones on.