The Brian Jonestown Massacre – 'Revelation' album review
Anton Newcombe and his cult psychonauts are back, sounding amazingly contemporary
By James Manning|
Ten years after his band became the anarchic subjects of Ondi Timoner’s cult documentary ‘Dig!’, Anton Newcombe is a teetotal stay-at-home dad in Berlin. It’s tempting to think of that kind of stability blunting creativity: after all, in the ’90s The Brian Jonestown Massacre built their reputation on Newcombe’s magnetic/repulsive personality – driven by heavy drug use and frequently resulting in mid-set punch-ups – as much as their records (which never sold that well anyway).
But ‘Revelation’, even more so than the band’s drifting last record ‘Aufheben’, is ample proof that Newcombe’s talent has outlasted the drugs, the drink, the fights, the chaos and even The Dandy Warhols. God knows how, but this gangly psychedelic hero and his loose pool of backing musicians are still able to turn a repetitive sequence of lackadaisical guitar chords into something you’ve heard a million times and never before.
It’s a trick the band pull off repeatedly and almost entirely successfully on ‘Revelation’. Opening track ‘Vad Hände Med Dem’ pairs The BJM’s trademark strum with a distorted Swedish vocal and a motorik drum beat, and ‘Unknown’ takes tips from Syd Barrett’s whacked-out solo career. ‘Xibalba’ and ‘Goodbye (Butterfly)’ approach pastoral pop, while ‘Second Sighting’ goes the whole psych-folk hog.
Freakier still are the instrumental ‘Duck and Cover’ (appropriately apocalyptic) and ‘Memorymix’: the soundtrack to the grooviest, smokiest basement party that you never managed to get into. It turns out that The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s embrace of the tripped-out past makes them sound astonishingly relevant in psych-obsessed 2014. Add to that some top-drawer songwriting, and ‘Revelation’ ends up well towards the top end of the band’s long and complicated discography. Dig it.
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