Record Review - 3 January 30 2002

The "inspirations" album is a growing trend in the new millennium. Blame, if you must, the postmodern desire to reveal what's in the mind of an artist and at the heart of a hack — and show that genius is a little of both.

Maybe it's because Europeans have always been seen as philosophers — from Greek treatises on righteousness to the British press wagering that the Strokes righteously rawk — but the majority of "inspirations" albums have come from foreign shores. Inaugurated by Philly's King Britt and U.K. broken_beat artist IG Culture, Karma Giraffe's Inspirations series now welcomes Atlanta producer Chris Brann to the fold with a 12-track selection that befits the eclectic. An aviation and music fanatic, Brann favors productions that envelop the complete stereo space while leaving enough air for each element to soar and float in turn. Brann — who produces under the names Ananda Project (soulful house) and P'Taah (more bossa- and breakbeat-influenced) — uses his volume of Inspirations to showcase what informs all aspects of his output.

In tracks that incorporate free jazz to fusion, Alice Coltrane to Can, Brann shows his predilection toward the song as a sketchbook, reinforcing his "No Room for Form" mantra. The "round" Rhodes of George Duke and the lush disco-era R&B of Gwen Guthrie and Teena Marie pulse with Brann's vision. But if there's any one track that crystallizes the roots of his sound, it's the classic house track "Closer" by Larry "Mr. Fingers" Heard, whose use of subtle shifts in texture is directly echoed in Ananda Project's best work. You can practically feel a body's heat through the beat.

Inspirations are the building blocks of the architect — and after hearing Brann's Inspirations, hopefully listeners will not only understand what drives Brann's designs, but also will be inspired to further build their own collections.??