*2022 stock* Cooper Crain once crystallized the Bitchin Bajas ethos with a simple question: “If you find a good loop that can hold its own musically, then why not use it?” That philosophy has served his group well for going on seven years, and has recently proven just as effective in collaboration. On their second album, Bajas Fresh, Bitchin Bajas continue in long-form mode, filling 80 minutes with just seven tracks—including their longest to date, the 23-minute and 3-second “2303.” But this one is less about homage than exploration. Though no track is a radical departure, Bajas Fresh is the group’s most diverse and ambitious record so far.
Part of that diversity comes from wider instrumentation. Five guests are credited on Bajas Fresh—including veteran Ghost guitarist Masaki Batoh—and each track has its own distinct tone and atmosphere. Perhaps this expanding sonic horizon is a byproduct of recent collaborations, but Crain, Rob Frye, and Daniel Quinlivan have also widened their field of vision naturally over their discography. The more music they’ve made together, the more comfortable they’ve gotten with introducing new elements into their sturdy approach.
The best example might be the one song on Bajas Fresh that the trio didn’t write themselves. Their cover of “Angels and Demons at Play,” the title track from a Sun Ra album, takes the original’s bubbling rhythm and massages it into a meditation, turning Marshall Allen’s soaring flute into a slo-mo flutter. This transformation from jazz swing to minimalist loop is remarkably smooth, and that kind of easy confidence permeates all of Bitchin Bajas. It’s in all the rotations of “Jammu,” the field-recording-like rattling of “Yonaguni,” and the calm horn sounds of “Chokayo.” Even during “2303,” the record’s longest and most drone-heavy track, the band’s assuredness keeps everything in constant motion.