Brent BirckheadCACAOBirckhead Music Group

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Brent Birckhead, the multi-instrumentalist, producer, arranger, and composer, presents CACAO—an
album that chronicles his journey of expansion and self-reclamation. This 9-track sophomore release
serves as a testament to his evolution as both an artist and a person.

Born amidst the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, CACAO reached completion as societies around
the globe emerged from their collective hibernation. Four years after his eponymous solo debut, this
harmonious masterpiece represents Birckhead’s courageous decision to forge a new path guided by
the rhythmic beat of his heart. It is an album engineered to inspire those brave enough to create their
own road as they walk it, and Birckhead ensures that the path he has paved is impossibly smooth.

During the historic pandemic and the ensuing solitude of quarantine, the Downbeat Award-winning
artist chose to abandon the geographic and stylistic elements that once defined his musical identity.
In a spiritual and physical exodus from New York City, he rediscovered his hometown of Baltimore,

In this unexpected journey, Birckhead found a wellspring of growth. The forced isolation refined his
creative process, transforming him into a one-man band driven by a relentless pursuit of productivity,
experimentation, and dynamism—reminiscent of Stevie Wonder’s growth during the TONTO era.

Equipped with analog instruments, samplers, and an array of digital tools, Birckhead embarked on
an ambitious approach to improvisation and solo arranging. This path required him to embrace
discomfort in order to achieve true artistic maturation.

As Birckhead explains, “Sometimes, we find ourselves clinging to habits and experiences that no
longer serve us, instead of embracing the discomfort that accompanies growth.”

A studio overhaul provided him with a streamlined workflow, enabling him to become a more prolific
composer and giving him the confidence to operate as both maestro and accompanist within a single
record. Simultaneously, his physical relocation allowed for the deepening of personal relationships
with immediate family members and the community that had supported him since childhood.

CACAO draws from the profound growth experienced during these endeavors. Opening with
“There’s Salt In The Honey,” Birckhead references the bitterness that precedes life’s sweetest
moments. In this case, relinquishing his identity as a New Yorker playing on some of the city’s
grandest stages was a challenging pill to swallow. However, it paved the way for a reclamation of
identity just a few hours down the turnpike.

Throughout the album, contrasting sensations of sourness and sweetness symbolize the symbiotic
relationship necessary for achieving balance in all aspects of life. Birckhead’s saxophone cuts
through in tracks like “Late Breakfast,” alluding to the disciplined approach to early mornings that
aided his personal homeostasis. Meanwhile, “Headspace” serves as a rapturous meditation on the
anxiety experienced during challenging times, racing to capture the light at the end of the tunnel.

Birckhead’s identity finds its place in ‘Skyline,’ an homage to his former home of New York City.
Featuring Christie Dashiell, Mic Renaissance, and his wife, Christian, the song encapsulates the
iconic view of the city’s skyline that Birckhead left behind upon departing from his East Harlem
residence with panoramic views of the Bronx. The sticky melody, inspired by the birthplace of hiphop,
is counterbalanced by razor-sharp bars, emphasizing the art form’s chameleonic ability to adapt
to any arrangement—a trait mirrored by Birckhead himself.

The title track, “CACAO” (The Main Ingredient), exudes an overwhelming sense of coolness. This
smooth and sweet composition marks the formal debut of Birckhead’s enveloping signature sound.
With a bright fanfare of woodwinds and a dense funk bass line, the song mirrors the complex yet
addictive flavor profile of its namesake. The versatility of Birckhead’s musicianship shines throughout
the entire album, creating a cohesive body of work.

Closing with the exclamation, “that’s the one!,” Birckhead’s observation about the track also applies
to the album as a whole. With each track, he raises the bar and pushes boundaries.

In “Ging Gang Gong Goong,” the bass takes the lead ahead of Birckhead’s horns. The track derives
its name from the pronunciation of the bass line, which serves as its main theme. It pairs a simple
melody with a dramatic ending, adding a touch of cinematic flair. Within this alternate universe,
levitating arpeggios and bright stabs play hide and seek in the depths of a rich bottom register.
Birckhead demonstrates his prowess as a master orchestrator, allowing the music to speak for itself.
The song’s title becomes an unforgettable refrain, immortalizing its essence.

Further embracing infectious rhythms, Birckhead pays tribute to 90s R&B giants with “Jodeci.”
Inspired by the namesake track and Baltimore natives Dru Hill, this composition replicates the
distinctive style of quartet singing that defined the era. A textured blend of gospel runs, tight
harmonies, and captivating percussion captures the essence of classic “please, baby, please”
ballads. The seamless fusion of early influences with bold new statements showcases Birckhead’s
ability to find his artistic home on CACAO—the first chapter of his artistic renaissance.

“I’ve learned that inspiration doesn’t simply come to you; you have to create the right environment
and put in the work to be ready when it arrives. This album marked the first time I approached my
work in that way. It’s been a journey of self-discovery, and I sense a significant change within myself.
I feel like a completely new person, with recognizable growth and a newfound energy, partly
influenced by the pandemic. No one knew what the future held; it was a time of immense uncertainty.
But what I did know is that I wouldn’t stop creating. I had to find a way to discover new avenues for
creativity and in turn, I found boundless expression. I’ve improved and evolved. I feel like I’m
entering a new season of my life,” said Birckhead.

With CACAO, Brent Birckhead invites listeners on a transformative musical journey. It is an album
that encapsulates his evolution, passion, and resilience—a testament to his unwavering commitment
to his craft and his unyielding spirit in the face of uncertainty.



There’s Salt in the Honey 3:48

Cacao 6:28

Ging Gang Gong Goong 4:47

Jodeci [ft Corey Wallace] 4:28

Headspace [ft Theljon Allen] 6:09

Cold Fried Chicken 4:38

Who is it – Who it is!! [ft Christie Dashiell] 5:45

Late Breakfast 1:50

Skyline [ft Christie Dashiell, Renaissance Mic, Christain] 4:14

Brent Birckhead– Sop, Alto, Tenor saxophones, Sop and Alto flutes, bass clarinet and synthesizers 

Mark Meadows– Piano and Fender Rhodes

Romeir Mendez– acoustic and electric bass

CV Dashiell lll– Drums

DeAnte Haggerty-Willis– Guitar (track 2 and 9)

Matvei Sigalov– Guitar (track 3)

Corey Wallace-track 4

Theljon Allen– trumpet and Flugelhorn (track 5)

Renaissance Mic– MC

Christian– MC

Recorded by Bob Dawson for Bias Studios

Mixed by Adrian Olsen for Montrose Recording

Mastered by Taylor Dupree for 12k Mastering

All compositions by Brent Birckhead for BIRCKHEAD Music Group LLC