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The Brian Jonestown Massacre - Don't Get Lost (Album Review)

Thursday, 02 March 2017 Written by Graeme Marsh

With Anton Newcombe promising to “review the reviews” of ‘Don’t Get Lost’, the Brian Jonestown Massacre’s 16th full length release, it’s tempting to cower in the corner or heap it with praise without even hearing it. Alternatively, you could give it a single cursory listen and write it off as sheer self-indulgence, such is its eclectic nature. To do so would be a big mistake.

Despite being recorded at the same time as last year’s ‘Third World Pyramid’ - and confusingly sharing its name with one of its tracks – this is a very different proposition. Newcombe previously explained in a Drowned In Sound interview that the first release would resemble what we expect the Brian Jonestown Massacre to sound like, while its follow up would be “indefinable, like something I’ve discovered”.

And, while recent releases have been peppered with explorations beyond Newcombe’s familiar multi-guitar sound, 'Don’t Get Lost’ consistently draws on his more experimental side.

Its 14 songs can be loosely categorised into three parts. Firstly, there are songs that mine psychedelic, warped and pulsating reverb-drenched beats alongside monotone vocals, as on opener Open Minds Now Close. Melodys Actual Echo Chamber, UFO Paycheck and the droning Resist Much Obey Little also fall under this umbrella.

Then there are tracks furnished with the wonderfully sultry vocals of regular collaborator Tess Parks, and it’s hard to see this combination as anything short of perfect. Not unlike 2015's ‘I Declare Nothing’, a collaborative album by Parks and Newcombe, the excellent Dropping Bombs On The Sun becomes sublime after evolving from its ambient opening.  

Lastly, there are the oddities. This is where you sit down and wonder at the mass of artistic matter bouncing around inside Newcombe’s brain. There’s the jazzy Geldenes Herz Menz, the Brian Eno-like ambience of Charmed I’m Sure, the simplistic piano riff and spoken word vocals of One Slow Breath and the downright bizarre closer Ich Bin Klang. There’s even some acid dabbling (Acid 2 Me Is No Worse Than War) and a guest spot from Tim Burgess on the dubstep number Fact 67.

While purists will possibly be disappointed, the entertainment that ‘Don’t Get Lost’ offers is arguably greater than anything that’s gone before it in the Brian Jonestown Massacre’s career. It isn’t, though, something that’s easy to digest in one sitting. Newcombe has asked people to listen to both ‘Third World Pyramid’ and ‘Don’t Get Lost’ and think about the fact that both were written at the same time. What that will likely reveal is that Newcombe’s mind is bursting with ideas; a riff here, a groove there. As a writer, he has always been prolific and this is ample proof that the well won’t be drying up for a while.

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