THE BRAINIAC 5
Reckless Records Cat No. RECKCD106
Distributed by Shellshock
Just a matter of months after their widely acclaimed album Journey To X, there’s no stopping the rejuvenated Brainiac 5 as they return with the aptly-titled We’re Ready!
It seems that the band had so much great material worked up for the Journey sessions that they allowed the natural momentum to carry them over, bringing additional material to proceedings to round out the process.
As well as introducing new songs, the band took the opportunity to revisit their past: ‛Trotsky’, which appeared on their classic ‛78 EP Mushy Doubt, is retooled here as ‛She’s Free’, sung by returning guest vocalist Jessie Pie; ‛Night Games’, a song dictated through a ouija board conversation with Jimi Hendrix(!) many years ago, is presented in studio version for the first time; and ‛Space Is The Place’, the track that kickstarted the band’s 21st Century rebirth, is given the full bells and whistles treatment it always deserved.
Emerging in the mid-70s out of the UK’s isolated yet thriving South-Western scene, the Brainiac 5 relocated to London, where their Mushy Doubt EP had already caused a stir. Sharing stages with the likes of The Soft Boys and The Barracudas and finding fans in John Peel and Alex Chilton, they split before their debut album World Inside was released through celebrated psych label Reckless (Bevis Frond, Black Sun Ensemble, Mu).
With frontman Charlie Taylor returning from years in the US, the Brainiacs reconvened, resulting in 2013’s Sun Ra-inspired Space Is The Place EP which garnered effusive reviews from the likes of The Wire and Shindig! Releasing the When Silence Was Sound anthology, the all-new Exploding Universe and Journey To X in quick succession the Brainiac 5 have earned praise from Mojo, Record Collector, R2, Vive Le Rock, Prog and Louderthanwar, as well as from psych and outsider websites around the world.
The group’s music has a freshness and verve that makes their recent reformation seem entirely justified. Prog
A full on post-psychedelic prog rock punk trip! Absorbing and atmospheric... Nuzz Prowling Wolf
Spunky, compelling and liberated. **** Shindig!
Punk energy harnessed to a serious Ladbroke Grove attitude, the result a wonderful cornucopia of sound. Terrascope
This is acid punk at its best. **** R2
Considering their 40 years plus history it is quite an achievement for them to have come out with something so fresh sounding and consistently intriguing in 2017. Louderthanwar
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Much of the material on this album came out of the same sessions for ‘Journey To X’ (reviewed here in December last year) and it carries forward their signature sound – heavily driven and highly melodic psych/prog with hints of the Canterbury sound and some of the jazz touches of Soft Machine.
Vocalist Charlie Taylor has a memorable voice and their liberal use of mellotron gives a strong nod to their origins in the mid-70’s but the music is as relevant today as any of the other prog bands plying the boards at the moment.
Every play of the album leaves the listener with something new to get their ears around. Whether it is the strong guitar lines from Duncan Kerr (Mad Dog) and his screaming solo on ‘The Holy Tangible’ (a new version of one of their classics with new lyrics based on a poem by Elizabeth Jennings) or the Hawkwind-esque driving rhythms of ‘Wave’.
One of their earliest numbers ‘Trotsky’ gets a fresh airing under the guise of ‘She’s Free (A.K.A. Trotsky)’ with a wonderful vocal from guest Jessie Pie over a reggae backing and powerful riffage in the break.
My favourite track here is actually one of the shortest; ‘My Time’ is a superb piece of psych-pop, very much in the manner of The Len Price 3, a perfect song to pogo to and you rapidly find yourself swirling around the room like a loon.
The album closes with ‘Space Is The Place (For Sun Ra)’ with superb guitar from Taylor and some sumptuous harmonies. A track so good you find yourself setting the whole album up to play again – every time.
The Brainiac 5 Are a remarkable modern band with hints in the past as well a future leaning view in their music. They are also one of the most listenable bands around at the moment.
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VIVE LE ROCK! REVIEW