The Brian Jonestown Massacre – + – EP

Brian JonestownIn the alphabet of rock’n’roll, ‘A’ should be reserved for Anton. Anton Newcombe is otherwise known as the founding father and leading mathematician of The Brian Jonestown Massacre - a man who may well have continued to make some of the most alluring, melodic 60s tinged pop in virtual anonymity, if it weren’t for the release of Dig! in 2004. This monster of a music documentary surrounded the paths of two local bands, The Brian Jonestown Massacre (who?) and The Dandy Warhols (of chart topping/advert loving “Bohemian Like You” fame). It still stands as one of the finest ‘rockumentaries’ bar none.

The main thing to come out of it was a somewhat miffed new found fame for Anton and his regular cohorts, which duly catapulted this star from Portland pariah to untapped US natural resource. He was suddenly embraced by the likes of NME, and venues and festivals around the world, all hungry for a slice of the Syd Barrett/Charlie Manson style antics to enchant their towns. His infamous ego and wild diatribes interspersed with some of the most beautifully mesmeric and original psyche grooves to ever leave a Rickenbacker duly obliged.

The Brian Jonestown Massacre have been recording since 1990. This year they released their 14th full length album Revelation, via Anton’s own label A Recordings, and out of his own Berlin studio. Here lies a new EP entitled + -.

First track “Heat” comes in with a Bobby Gillespie style vocal menace, but no one touches Anton’s guitar, as he explains in something hinting towards a chorus: "You feel the heat, you’re gonna learn.” On following track “Everything Was Very Simple”, there’s a melodious instrumental with echoing loops and a faraway vocal, from either an Indian Maharishi guru or African medicine man, I can't be sure. It has a worldly charm, and would no doubt be the perfect track to get very high, or meditate and sleep to. When a tune can bring about the effects of opium and peace induced morphine, you can’t really argue with it.

This all sets up so perfectly for the third track, or the b-side if you're rocking the vinyl. “Reconstruction” is vintage Brian Jonestown Massacre at their most stifling best. It swings and grooves, scintillating, oscillating... PARKLIFE! This has the moves. You can’t help but lose yourself to its hypnotic tempo and blissed out rhythm. The onus track on the digital download, though sadly not on the 10” vinyl version, also scores highly. “Leave It Alone” questions the universe while Anton tries to figure out the answers with a burst of tripped out guitar in this hip shakin’ psychedelic call and response between vocal and guitar.

In conclusion, this EP treads nowhere new for the initiated BJM fan, but isn’t that just how we like it? After all, why mess with imperfection. And for those who may be new to the work of Anton Newcombe or The Brian Jonestown Massacre, come in and make yourself warm, take off your clothes and let your freak flag fly.

Release: 11th November 2014, A Recordings


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