BRAINIAC 5 - 'SPACE IS THE PLACE' - Shagrat Records: ENT014 10" Vinyl EP
In the immortal words of the late rock historian John Platt, Shagrat Records is pleased to present ‘from Penzance via Mars’, a 10” waxing by the recently re-united Brainiac 5!
Formed in the late 70s in Cornwall, the Brainiacs (all four of them!) inhaled the prevalent punk spirit of the times but were equally happy to ingest the plentiful psilocybins growing naturally on the Peninsular of Dreams and take their music to the outer reaches of the mind! Their 1978 debut EP The Mushy Doubt, was a wondrous melting pot of punk and acid rock that drew not only on the Pistols short sharp shock attack and the outlandish dub explorations of Lee Perry but also the dreamy guitar extemporisations of 60s bands like Country Joe & The Fish, and found instant favour with DJ John Peel who played the waxing regularly on his show.
Sadly the band split in late 1980 after releasing a further 7” and completing an album that was posthumously released on Reckless Records. In the intervening years the band’s cachet has grown and they have been recognised as one of the fore-runners of the 80s psychedelic revival alongside such outfits as the Soft Boys and the Colours Out Of Time.
Brainiac spiritual leader Charles Taylor returned to live in the UK in 2010 after a couple of decades roaming the globe and felt a burning desire to play music again. His first port of call was his old muckers from his now legendary group, the Half Human Band who zapped minds at the fabled 1974 Windsor Free Festival alongside the likes of Kraan, Gong and Zorch. A full-blown HHB reunion was stymied because of the crazy logistics getting the various band members together regularly for rehearsal from the far flung corners of the British Isles. By the law of diminishing returns, one Sunday afternoon all who assembled were Charles on guitar and vocals and fellow founding Brainiac member Woody on bass.
It seemed the logical course of action was to re-convene their old band.
Well who’d have thunk it, huh, a Brainiac reunion? It’s strange but true!
Recruiting pal Duncan Kerr on guitar and backing vocals (who’d shared lead duties with another former Brainiac Richard Booth in the long lost Plummet Airlines), the final piece of the jigsaw fell into place when original drummer Steve ‘Heartbeat’ Hudson was lured out of retirement to fill the drum stool. A few rehearsals later and a few gigs under their belt, the band was firing on all cylinders again and quite as potent as in their 70s heyday!
The three tracks that comprise the Space Is The Place 10” EP were recorded live in autumn 2012 and are released with a minimum of overdubs. The flipside comprises two songs: ‘Matelot Mick’ and ‘Kabul’ that were rescued from the days of the Half Human Band and revived purely from memory as no recordings from that era survive.
I think you’ll agree that their free-wheeiing spirit is a testament to the old free festival era whilst benefitting from 35 years of hindsight and improved musicianship - fine stuff.
The standout cut on this EP is its title track, ‘Space Is the Place’, which will have original followers jumping for joy! This is a classic from the halcyon days of yore which sadly never got committed to analogue tape first time around and survived only on old bootleg live recordings. Tipping its hat to the great man himself, Sun Ra this sees the Brainiacs eight miles high and soaring – a beautiful flowing piece of cosmic brilliance containing some of their best guitar solos ever. ‘Space’ features some of the finest modal guitar playing since the heyday of Television and that Duncan Kerr – wow what a find!
Imagine an unholy marriage of vintage San Francisco psychedelic ballroom rock and the spirit of the Roxy Club at its 1976 height, taking a honeymoon somewhere down Canterbury way and you’ll get a flavour of this ace 10”.
Coming in a limited run of 500 copies with sleeve notes by Charles Taylor and housed in a truly mynd-blowing sleeve by the inimitable John Hurford – one of his best ever in our humble opinion -this EP will not only delight old fans but should deservedly win the group a whole new following.
Release date 18 February 2013
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