Album Reviews

The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Revelation

(a) UK release date: 19 May 2014

The Brian Jonestown Massacre - Revelation Various demo versions of US psychedelic rockers’ The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s 14th studio album Revelation have been available on Youtube for several months now as enigmatic leader Anton Newcombe takes control of the situation, rather than have someone illegally stick it up without his consent.

It’s this kind of social media embracement that has enabled Newcombe to connect regularly with fans, often engaging in dialogue on both Youtube and an active Twitter account – always approachable, always making time for those that appreciate his art; it’s a far cry from the days fuelled by drugs and then drink as addictions came and went.

Many will know him from the documentary Dig! where he was portrayed as The Dandy Warhols’ wild adversary. These days he’s a happier soul, shacked up in Berlin with a wife and young son a short commute away from his self-built studio where he continues to create at a prolific rate.

A customary Record Store Day release recently emerged, album closer Goodbye (Butterfly), but when the very same day saw the limited vinyl attracting bids on eBay way above cost price, Newcombe immediately posted his disgust on Twitter, a stance that Paul Weller echoed and one that will likely see the innovative idea to boost independent record store sales suffer.

The song is a brilliant highlight on an eclectic collection: a constant mellotron-like noise that cousins The Black Angels are so fond of takes up permanent residency alongside flute, upbeat melodic synth meanderings and acoustic guitar as Newcombe showcases his plethora of musical talent (he can play over 80 instruments, don’t you know). A constant “doo doo” akin to The Rolling Stones’ Sympathy For The Devil permeates throughout to complete the picture.

BJM have a history of creating hypnotic, twanging guitar melodies and they return in abundance: Unknown ploughs Newcombe’s favoured ‘60s psychedelic era for a sub-two minute bluesy ode including a trademark guitar solo outro. Memory Camp cruises into earshot like something from Primal Scream’s Screamadelica before a toned down Led Zeppelin like riff pops up as vocals take on a distorted presence, more familiar toned guitar meanderings then taking over. Days, Weeks And Moths plods slowly along as a blues-tinged drunken psychedelic monster takes shape, its continuous, descending four chord structure furnished with more brilliant guitar improvisation and sorrowful lyrics: “I’ve got no time to worry, I’ve got no time to cry,” he declares.

There’s often a disco vibe, an example being opening track Vad Hände Med Dem (Swedish for Whatever Happened To Them), a belting track referencing hyped up ‘bands of the moment’ that disappear just as quickly. Sung in Swedish by Joachim Alhund (Les Big Byrds), its bouncy beat, manic drum rolls and swirling synths create a delicious backdrop for a punchy brass synth line.

Stop/start instrumental Duck And Cover begins with an eerie, wiry five-note synth sequence before a catchy, upbeat drum pattern and repeated guitar riff appear whilst Memorymix creates a techno rave feel, echoey vocals gliding above its persistent, pulsing beat.

Nightbird is classic BJM: a slower cut with familiar acoustic strumming pattern, tambourine and mellow, twanging guitar solo. Fist Full Of Bees’ clapping beat walks another slow path with brass synth touches whilst What You Isn’t boasts one of those familiar, snake-charmer like weaving melodies alongside lyrical instructions like “you’ve got to wake up and be a man and make a plan”.

With the exception of Second Sighting – a tragic, woodwind heavy medieval dance-like instrumental – there’s a lot to love about Revelation. Where Newcombe continues to find inspiration from, who knows, but the music still keeps on coming. And the world is a better place for it.

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