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Brainstorm - 2005 - "Desert World"

(75 min, 'Brainstorm')

TRACK LIST:                    

1.  The Light 11:22
2.  Occupation 6:58
3.  Unfathomed Darkness 4:59
4.  Mutants 10:24
5.  Shadow of the Past 7:02
6.  Paradise Lost 8:46
7.  Martian Chronicle 7:16
8.  Goblins 3:44
9.  Desert World 11:44


Paul Foley - vocals; guitar; flute
Craig Carter - guitar; vocals; keyboards
Jeff Powerlett - bass; vocals
Vittorio Di Iorio - drums; guitar
Steve Bechervaise - keyboards

Prolusion. Until now, I knew of two outfits named Brainstorm, one being the very first advocates of Zeuhl/RIO to come out of Germany, and another the representatives of the US Metal scene. This is an Australian BRAINSTORM. The band's history totals 18 years, and their discography includes four full-length albums. These are "Brainstorm" (1993), "Earth 0" (1995/2000), "Tales of the Future" (1998) and "Desert World" (2005), although only the latter three are CD releases, while the former is available only on cassette, at least so far. It took a long time for the group to bring out "Desert World", which was recorded between 2000 and 2005.

Analysis. This 72-minute recording includes nine tracks, two of which feature neither lyrics nor vocals. Thematically, this is a kind of concept story of the distant future, though the verses aren't as deep and picturesque as those by Roger Waters or Michael Moorcock, for instance. (Moorcock, a well-known English sci-fi writer, was a lyricist for Hawkwind for quite a long time). That being said, none of the songs is overloaded with singing, while those taking the first two positions in the track list are largely instrumental, in the concept's truest sense. Both of these, The Light and Occupation, are probably the brightest specimens of the album's prevalent style, although at the same time, they are rich in already familiar compositional and structural techniques, unlike the others, which either contain a much lesser number of such or are free of them at all. I hear the echoes of Pink Floyd's "A Saucerful of Secrets" and "Meddle" (especially obvious in the vocal-based arrangements), Hawkwind's "Hall of the Mountain Grill" and "Warrior at the Edge of Time" (revealing themselves mainly in the harsh instrumental textures), Eloy's "Floating" and "Solar Music" by Grobschnitt, the influences being listed in descending order. So it is no surprise that the band's general interest lies primarily within the vintage Space Rock sphere. However it would be unfair not to note that their personal achievements in this field eclipse their transient turn to those of the others. What is more exciting is that these Spacemen from the planet's other hemisphere:-) cover most of the genre's principal manifestations: symphonic, heavy, psychedelic and ambient, i.e. perhaps all but electronic space music (thankfully). The former two are prevalent, much more often appearing in union with the others than being blended among themselves. In pure form, ambient-like textures can only be found on a couple of tracks and are rare in general. Despite the fact that Occupation is only half as long as The Light, it's multi-sectional in construction too. Both are notable for the alternation of soft-and-slow arrangements having a distinct symphonic feeling with intense and heavy ones, often performed rapidly, though the former also features an interesting acoustic guitar line. The purposeful returns to the past for a previously played theme are only obvious in the vocal sections (perhaps just because there are few of such on these), which can be traced on the other songs as well, but with much less luck than here. The songs Mutants, Martian Chronicle and Shadow of the Past are also rich in effective contrasts and transitions, here more often displayed within the same section, making them sound more sophisticated. A nice pair of bass and drums sets up a groove, periodically changing both the direction and tempo, while the principal soloing forces (synthesizer, organ, electric guitar and flute) pave their furrows independently from basic themes, plus always differentiating from each other in various parameters. At least musically, Mutants warrants its title, as some European motifs there at times undergo a mutation while finding the outlines of Oriental music. The two instrumental pieces, Unfathomed Darkness and Goblins, are relatively short, due to which both are more massive in sound, reminding me of somewhat compressed versions of the primary style. Which however doesn't mean they are weaker, not in the least! They aren't inferior to any of the tracks and are better than the first two, at least because, well, I am a rather strong advocate of originality. The former is striking for the splendid acoustic guitar passage that runs almost all through it, being harmoniously interwoven with electric fabrics; the latter is heavier, particularly in the finale. Both of the remaining songs are free of heavy and psychedelic features. The predominantly acoustic Paradise Lost is a complicated symphonic Space Rock ballad based on the beautiful (and mostly ever-changing) interplay between acoustic guitar and flute. These particular instruments play an important role on the title track, which concludes the album. Overall however, this is symphonic Space Rock with a full-band sound, developing from soft and mellow passages to a fast, intense and quite eclectic jam-like movement. The acoustic guitar appears alone shortly before the coda.

Conclusion. Casting aside Brainstorm's open and hidden hints of their mighty benefactors, I can say all in all, their "Desert World" is 72 minutes (a double album actually) of enjoyable Space Rock, which is a rare case nowadays. Definitely worth a listen.

VM: June 29, 2006

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