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Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Brian Jonestown Massacre: Revelation


1) Vad Hände Med Dem?; 2) What You Isn't; 3) Unknown; 4) Memory Camp; 5) Days, Weeks And Moths; 6) Duck And Cover; 7) Food For Clouds; 8) Second Sighting; 9) Memorymix; 10) Fist Full Of Bees; 11) Nightbird; 12) Xi­balba; 13) Goodbye (Butterfly).

The problem with a «good formula for psychedelic music» is that, like most formulae, even this one begins to run dry after a while. Yes, the BJM did enter a new period of creativity and inspi­ration with My Bloody Underground, and managed to keep music evil for a little while — but with their fourth record from the same streak, they are beginning to repeat themselves... no, wait, scratch that, because repetition has always been a key element of the BJM ideology in the first place. They are beginning to sound like their own shadow — that would be more precise.

Again, Revelation is an album of repetitive psychedelic grooves, with each track usually harbor­ing one riff and one draggy vocal melody. These may be smart or dumb, emotional or bland, com­plex or simplistic, but what really sucks is that they are very close to each other in tone and spirit. Even Aufheben, calm and quiet as it was compared to Who Killed Sgt. Pepper?, seemed more diverse and less predictable than this collection of largely mid-tempo stomps with echoey bluesy riffs. I actually like some of these riffs, I really do: ʽFood For Cloudsʼ has an especially nice one, minor-melancholy-poppy in Robert Smith style, and the little bluesy flourish at the end of each verse in ʽMemory Campʼ is doggone nasty. But does it really all have to be so... even? The tracks just blend into each other, and with Newcombe's mumbly mutterings in the place of normal singing all the time, you just have no hope to carve out separate identities for the tracks. Song after song after song, it's just the same old drag.

The only attempts at something relatively different come in the guise of a few «rhythmically mo­dern» tunes, such as the funky ʽDuck & Coverʼ and the trancey-clubby ʽMemorymixʼ. They do not feel like obnoxious intruders, but their moods are the same — all these songs sound like the product of somebody for whom taking hard drugs is seen as an artistic obligation, rather than a source of pleasure or enlightenment. He doesn't want to, see, but he has to, or else he won't be able to churn out these tired, dusty, mentally uncomfortable grooves.

In the end, I just do not see the point. If I want an album of lean, mean, nasty, and unpredictably crazy BJM grooves, I will just try one more stab at Who Killed Sgt. Pepper?. If I want their de­construction of 1960s aesthetics, I will rewind the thread all the way back to 1996. Revelation, however, is just a typical going-through-the-motions effort: tasteful and cool-sounding as always, but adding nothing whatsoever to the band's legacy. Other than reminding us, perhaps, that as of 2014. Anton Newcombe is still alive and well. Relatively well, that is — I guess he's still sulking that nobody brought him Paul McCartney's head on Heather Mills' wooden peg, after all, and that may have taken a bite out of his stamina.

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