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The Brian Jonestown Massacre - Third World Pyramid (Album Review)

Wednesday, 02 November 2016 Written by Graeme Marsh

‘Third World Pyramid’ is the Brian Jonestown Massacre’s 15th full length in 21 years, but it’s all the stuff that emerges inbetween the band’s records that sets the seal on leader Anton Newcombe’s remarkably prolific creative drive.

In the last couple of years, Brian Jonestown Massacre have released albums ‘Revelation’ and ‘Musique de Film Imaginé’, a soundtrack for a film that didn’t exist, plus ‘Mini Album Thingy Wingy’ and a cracking single, Fingertips, earlier this year. Newcombe also collaborated with Canadian singer Tess Parks on ‘I Declare Nothing’ and found time to write the score for an actual movie, Moon Dogs.

A profile in The Bay Bridged earlier this year suggested he’d also amassed 45 songs and earmarked two albums for release this year, with ‘Third World Pyramid’ the first to appear.

As with most of the band’s recent records, what you get here is a mixture of classic Brian Jonestown Massacre psychedelic guitar tracks that the band can add to live shows, as well as investigations of Newcombe’s experimental side. This time around, collaborators include both Parks and Katy Lane on vocals plus Emil Nikolaisen from the vastly underrated Norwegian outfit Serena-Maneesh.

The brilliant, bread and butter guitar tracks are where fans will find a foothold first. Government Beard, for example, has become a live staple during recent, massive three hour sets and its cocktail of upbeat, warped psychedelic six string, flute and tambourine excess will keep Joel Gion in a job for a bit longer.

Don’t Get Lost boasts a meandering brass melody amid a chiming guitar backdrop and echoing vocals; it is everything you love about Brian Jonestown Massacre when in their trademark plodding Velvet Underground guise. Newcombe’s no stranger to weird song titles and Like Describing Colors To A Blind Man On Acid completes the record’s trio of classic tracks, this time with a Byrdsian jangle. It’s shorter than you’d prefer, but when did Newcombe pander to anyone else’s needs?

The album’s less familiar movements are where the intrigue lies, though. Album opener Good Mourning is an almost medieval-sounding effort while the instrumental Oh Bother delves into Newcombe’s influences from middle eastern music. The racing title track and lead single The Sun Ship continue the spacey psychedelic trend, but perhaps best of all is the lengthy Assignment Song, which sounds like an exploration of Brian Jonestown Massacre’s roots in the Rolling Stones’ psych era melded with their own cover of the Cryan’ Shames’ Sailor from ‘Bravery, Repetition And Noise’.

Newcombe’s eccentricities are well documented, but he’s undeniably a genius who lives for music. ‘Third World Pyramid’ isn’t designed to be perfect and some tracks here will need more time than others to sink in, but they’ll get there sooner or later. In Anton we trust.

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