The Brian Jonestown Massacre


To the wider world, doubtlessly weaned on Ondi Timoner’s 2003 documentary Dig!, it’s been all too easy to take Anton Newcombe for granted. Seen in certain quarters as a misguided figure of fun, this disingenuous view has masked the fact that the music made by The Brian Jonestown Massacre over the last decade or so has been on an upward trajectory and one that has thrown a number of interesting curveballs along the way. With Revelation, the first to be fully recorded in Newcombe’s Berlin studio, the band has delivered its most satisfying and accomplished collection section since And This Is Our Music dropped just over a decade ago.

What becomes apparent over the album’s 13 tracks is that the band’s psychedelic vision has widened to go beyond the 60s influences that informed so much of their earlier work. For sure, those are still very much present and correct but added to the eclectic mix are the kind of pastoral interludes perfect for sacrificing a Christian policeman on Summerisle (‘Second Sighting’), dubby loops (‘Fist Full Of Bees’) and the kind of pulsing, electronic beats that wouldn’t go amiss on a moonlit beach in the shadow of ancient ruins.

It’s precisely this spectrum of third-eye cleansing joys that makes Revelation an album in the old sense of the word. This isn’t simply a number of songs casually thrown together but a collection of music that’s more akin to a journey that chooses its destination and the route it’s taking with care. So while opener ‘Vad Hände Med Dem?’ possesses a sense of surface level familiarity, the song’s melding of Stones guitars with motorik beats and vocals sung in Swedish by Les Big Byrd’s Joakim Åhlund succeeds in surprising and delighting. As the album progresses via woozy blues (‘Days, Weeks And Moths’), the electronic psyche of ‘Duck And Cover’ through to the throbbing, insistent climax of ‘Goodbye (Butterfly)’, the realisation sets in that this something worth taking time out for and engaging with.

What’s most intriguing is that for all the nods to other genres and kaleidoscopic days gone by, the music that The Brian Jonestown Massacre create is very much their own. A splendid synthesis that aids them in achieving their stated aim of keeping music evil, Revelations very much sets the benchmark by which their subsequent work will be judged. Few are the bands who can keep delivering this far down the line; fewer still are those you look forward to hearing more from in the future and this is a rare and special space that these psyche overlords occupy.

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