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Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Brian Jonestown Massacre: Mini Album Thingy Wingy


1) Pish; 2) Prší Prší; 3) Get Some; 4) Dust; 5) Leave It Alone; 6) Mandrake Handshake; 7) Here Comes The Waiting For The Sun.

Yes, apparently this is the correct title of Newcombe's second artistic outburst of 2015 — not ʽPishʼ, as a fairly securely stoned Brian Jones seems to be telling you from his vantage position on the front sleeve. ʽPishʼ itself is only the name of the first track, which opens with a soaked-in-Sixties echoey blues-pop riff and quickly becomes a slow, monotonous, psychedelic vamp that takes you all the way back... no, not really into 1967, but rather into 1995-1996, back to New­combe's own roots. Pretty much all of the unpredictable, bizarrely mashed-up experimentation of the band's «second golden age» that began with My Bloody Underground has been thrown out of the window — so who knows what happened? My best guess is that Anton, once again, switched his drug of preference choice.

The results are not too bad, especially because of the wise choice to keep this restoration of tra­ditional Brian Jones family values short and sweet — 34 minutes is indeed a «mini-album», al­beit far from Newcombe's first attempt at brevity, and he does manage to drag us through some cool ideas and textures in the meantime. The problem is... all the old problems are back, too: each of the tracks exhausts its load of ideas in about one minute, and then it all depends on whether that one minute was enough to cast its trance over you or not. Take the longest piece for an example: ʽLeave It Aloneʼ quickly sets up a tough threatening mood, constructing a double-barrel musical machine out of one fuzzy, sustained chord and a dirty one-string vamp around it (think Jorma Kaukonen trying out Neil Young's style), and it's cool, but that's all it does for six minutes, and I cannot even say that the lead guitar kicks sufficient ass to endure this. (A real Neil Young pro­bably could, but a real Neil Young would probably refuse to play like he was stoned out of his mind, and with BJM this is almost always an obligatory condition).

On the slightly odder side of things, ʽPrší Pršíʼ does continue the recently established tradition of odd collaborations — this time, with Vladimir Nosal, allegedly the frontman of an indie band from Slovakia named Queer Jane (judging by what little I've heard from then on Youtube, they specialize in Beatlesque pop). Curiously, even though most of Queer Jane's material is sung in English, this track is sung in Slovak, because what can be more psychedelic than the usage of a Slavic language on an American retro-psychedelic album? However, if Slavic languages do not, by their very existence, already mystify and befuddle you, the track will hardly be more than just another pleasant, quickly forgettable psychedelic pastiche.

Elsewhere, you find a passable, but useless cover of a bona fide psychedelic classic (ʽDustʼ by the 13th Floor Elevators, with a lovingly recreated sound of that band's infamous electric jug); ano­ther slow, pleasant, predictable vamp that seems to be here just so that Anton can use a cool title like ʽMandrake Handshakeʼ; and, corniest of all, ʽHere Comes The Waiting For The Sunʼ, which, sounds absolutely nothing like either ʽHere Comes The Sunʼ or ʽWaiting For The Sunʼ, but rather, as some reviewers have already noted, like Donovan's ʽHurdy Gurdy Manʼ. Not that good old Donovan hasn't done his fair share of waiting for the sun back in the day, but enough with the pseudo-post-modern titles already, eh?

Anyway, no cri­ticism whatsoever about the sound of it all, Newcombe still understands the art of classic psyche­delic guitar (and throw in a bit of sitar and Mellotron where appropriate) better than anybody else in this world. It's just that he has once again given up on the idea to advance that art, and remains perfectly content just to fiddle around with it, in his usual «glorified lazy» mode. And putting your trusted mascot, for the first time ever, right up front on that album sleeve (did he even secure the rights for the photo?), is not going to mask the fact that Mini Album Thingy Wingy does seem like an attempt to wing it, and if so, then why does it even exist? We can al­ways pull off Their Satanic Majesties' Second Request off the shelf if we're in this kind of mood — there's no big need for a third one.

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