After setting their house in order with the widely approved career retrospective When Silence Was Sound, the reunited, reconfigured and reinvigorated Brainiac 5 return with Exploding Universe. This new offering shows the enthusiasm and drive of those recordings have not been dimmed, and that the Brainiacs are still developing in new directions. Horns have now been added and a wider range of musical styles mined, yet this is still clearly very much a Brainiac 5 record, brimming with energy and invention. As before, few areas are truly off limits as they take their psych-punk blueprint through the neighbourhoods of funk, reggae and jazz on what it their most adventurous, yet focused, recording yet.
Recorded at Alchemy Studio in Wood Green, North London, Exploding Universe features ten new songs performed by the Brainiacs’ nucleus of Charlie Taylor, Duncan ‘Mad Dog’ Kerr and John ‘Woody’ Wood plus drummer Wayne Worrell and Nick Onley on sax and flute, with contributions from Ethan Landis (Hackney Brass Band) on trumpet and Phil Overhead (sessions for Suede and Alison Moyet among many) on congas and percussion. It was lovingly mixed by their longtime engineer, Hawkwind’s Martin Griffin at his Roche Studio on the edge of Dartmoor. The album also features a cameo from founder member and renowned Cornish poet Bert Biscoe, alongside appearances from the equally renowned Gertrude Stein and G I Gurdjieff.
Formed out of the ashes of free festival favourites the Half Human Band (also featuring Griffin), The Brainiac 5 made a name for themselves on the isolated yet thriving mid-70s Cornish pub, club and festival scene. Praised by the NME for their Mushy Doubt EP, the band made the move to London to enjoy the fruits of a gig circuit enlivened by punk. Yet despite sharing stages with The Soft Boys and The Barracudas and coming to the attention of the likes of John Peel and Alex Chilton, they split before their debut album World Inside could be released. The album eventually saw the light of day in 1988 via Reckless Records, also responsible for releases by such psych legends as Bevis Frond, Black Sun Ensemble and Mu.
Fast forward to 2013 and the opportunity to reconvene the Brainiacs resulted in the Sun Ra-inspired Space Is The Place, a 10-inch EP of new recordings on Bucketfull Of Brains magazine founder Nigel Cross’s Shagrat label, garnering effusive reviews from the likes of The Wire and Shindig!, with the following When Silence Was Sound retrospective receiving similar praise from Mojo, Record Collector, R2 and Vive Le Rock magazines.
The group’s music has a freshness and verve that makes their recent reformation seem entirely justified. Prog Magazine
It’s like finding something you never knew you’d lost. The Wire
The West Country’s answer to Television. Shindig!
Punk energy harnessed to a serious Ladbroke Grove attitude, the result a wonderful cornucopia of sound. Terrascope
**** R2 Magazine **** Record Collector