Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Brainiac 5 - When Silence Was Sound 1977-80 (2014, Reckless) - A brief overview.

Given the uber-arcane nature of some of the vintage goodies I make available here, it's heartening to learn that every so often one of them gets a bonafide reissue.  Looking back at my hasty 2012 entry for Brainiac 5's lone LP, the posthumous World Inside, it's become apparent that I oversimplified what the Cornwall, UK troupe was all about.  Luckily, the Brainiac's newly minted anthology, When Silence Was Sound, has enlightened me further and should do likewise for you.  The band's late '70s lifespan in itself might suggest quite a bit, but it would take a lot more than your proverbial 140 characters to describe their essence...but I'll try.   Brainiac 5 conveyed a casual mash-up of proto and post-punk, rarely hitting the famous three-chord sweet spot that slotted in between those two realms.  More inspired than incendiary, the quartet might be one of the only bands of their era that weren't deliberately trying to sound like a product of it.  Their brief discography hinted at the likes of the Velvets, Cleveland punk, Tom Verlaine and Nuggets, coupled with a low-to-mid fi sonic penchant, tinting just about everything in sight with a grainy mystique. 

When Silence Was Sound reprises all of World Inside's ten selections, though some appear in slightly altered versions.  An additional seven songs are added, culled from singles, demos, and even a 1980 concert which would prove to be their last.  Intentional or not, the Brainiacs were surprisingly long on diversity.  The few articles I've read on them emphasize their psych proclivities, but aside from the slow-burning fuse that is "Endless River," and the Barrett-esque "Woman Inside" their modus operandi was more contemporary.  In fact, "I Tried" was as forward thinking as anything their colleagues were brewing up.  "Time" embraces a contemplative and practically ethereal finesse, the yin to the yang of the boisterous rocker "Addicted," which plays out like Swindle -era Pistols.  "Waiting for the Woman" kicks up a Pere Ubu-like racket, while the lengthy and loopy "Feel" vaguely foreshadows what fellow Brits the Monochrome Set would have in mind shortly after Brainiac 5 hung up their collective hat.  In a nutshell, When Silence is a disparate but delightful patchwork.

As luck would have it the band reunited in 2012-13 for some reunion shows, and were even buoyed enough to commit some unrecorded material to tape for a new 10" ep (in extremely limited quantities I might add).  Colin Hill lays out the entire Brainiac 5 saga in Silence's detailed liner notes, up to and including the reunion.  Hard copy CDs can be obtained through Amazon and the band's website.  You can stream it on Bandcamp, and I've also made a two song sampler available below...but just for a little while.


1 comment: