Since reforming The Brainiac 5 have successfully maintained their 1970s core psych/punk tradition but have also shown great willingness to expand their range of styles/influences and to work with a range of guest musicians.
However, with “Back to Shore” this willingness to experiment has been taken a step further.
There are indeed three tracks, Long Enough, What We Can and Breaking Up, that are firmly attached to their roots. But even these, studio recorded by the current band, have Chrissy Quayle, an associate from the early West Penwith days, added.
It is for the quartet of tracks that make up the “Back to Shore” section of this album where the approach has been totally new. For these a simple, hypnotic, looped backing track has been used throughout.
Initially this loop was sent out to past band members and associates together with a few friends, some of whom had never heard the Band. Some vague suggestions were given, but the musicians were encouraged to come back with whatever they fancied.
The response to this proved fantastic, allowing the direction of two tracks, A Woman’s Work and The Seal Man to be quickly established. At this point Charlie Taylor, Woody and Duncan Kerr convened to throw in ideas/contributions and establish provisional arrangements. Now the juices were flowing and the direction for two more tracks, Tribute to Alex Ward and This Way, was established. It was realised that, far from being restrictive, the loop had a liberating effect, allowing the music to fly off in different directions but still sound like a united whole.
As the tracks took shape a few more people were approached to contribute. So, working in this way omit: it has been an amorphous process with everyone involved contributing to the final product, The Brainiac 5 merely giving a guiding hand.
While these “Back to Shore” tracks were being developed Duncan Kerr had been beavering away with his solo track, Elegy, making for another bit of experimentation and blending in perfectly.
There can’t be many albums delivering a punk attitude, with literary lyrics, copious spoonsful of psych. guitar and serious jazz chops all mixed in with jew’s harps, penny whistles, reggae toasting and highland bagpipes.
It has proved to be a fascinating experiment that has thrown up some amazing and unexpected music.
released March 7, 2019
BRAINIACS ON THIS RECORD ARE:
Charlie Taylor: vocals, guitars, keyboards, drums, percussion
Duncan “Mad Dog” Kerr: guitars, vocals, bass
Wayne Worrell: bass
Joe Malone: drums, cajon, bodhran, percussion
Woody: bass, harmonica, thumb piano, Jew’s harp, ringmaster (2-5)
Chrissy Quayle: vocals, whistle, flute, soprano sax (all except 4 and 6)
Bert Biscoe: vocals (2, 7)
Oli Arlotto: tenor and baritone saxes (4, 5)
Oxman: toast (3)
Dave “Bagpipes” Brooks: highland bagpipes, Dega electronic pipes (3)
Richard Booth: underwater guitar (5)
Russell Roberts: bongos (2), additional production and editing (all except 4 and 6)
Lucy Yuill: recitation (2)
Angela Taylor: vocal (6)
Track 1 lyrics are from “as freedom is a breakfast food” by E.E. Cummings
Lyrics at the beginning of track 5 are from The Seal Man by Rebecca Clarke
Assembled and mixed by Charlie Taylor at Disco 2000, Epping in 2018
Recorded (tracks 1, 7, 8) and mastered by Kenny Jones at Alchemy Studio, Wood Green
Sleeve design by Woodenfield
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.
Reckless Records CD108
P and C Reckless Records Ltd 2019