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Monday, 10 January 2011

Review: Brast Burn - Debon (Released 1975 on Voice Records and later reissued on Paradigm Discs)

First put online on the Head Heritage website in 2003

One of the great lost Krautrock albums of the 1970s....... a Japanese group!

Brast Burn were included on the 'legendary list' that appeared on the sleeve of the debut album from Nurse With Wound, 1979's startling
"Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella" (United Dairies).

NWW mainman Steve Stapleton had put together a list of the major players amongst everything Krautrock, experimental, avant-garde and like-minded artists to make a young 'post-punk' audience hungry for more brain-popping musics and to let a new audience into the bliss that is Krautrock.
As a teenager in the early 70s, Stapleton actually travelled to Germany as an exploring fan, staying at Conny Plank's Studio and also partying with Guru Guru, no wonder his life took the turn it did.

In the 1990s, Stapleton spoke of his joy in a feature in The Wire magazine about certain labels to re-release many hidden gems onto CD.

Brast Burn's "Debon" album was first released on Voice Records in the mid-seventies and it wasn't until 1998 that Clive Graham's Paradigm label brought it to the surface once more.
Apparently, it was remastered from the original vinyl, but don't be put off, Graham has done a fantastic remaster job, altogether with a great sleeve.

There is something more to add to the mystery when he asks if anyone has any information as to the whereabouts of the group, where the album was recorded etc. .

The album is made up of two long pieces (you guessed it) "Debon parts 1 & 2".
A faded in Synth pulse starts the album off which morphs into an orchestration of fuzzed Guitar, echo-drenched Percussives, reverbed Bass Guitar , Pianos, Acoustic Slide Guitars, Zithers and all manner of Taped sounds, slowly letting the rhythm set a steady pace for the Vocals to begin. Well now, the lead Vocals always make me smile!
Friends of mine have always come up with some corking descriptions: 'Damo Suzuki on Crack' , 'James Brown in Space' and er...'Shaun Ryder's Dad'!

Whatever description they should have, one thing is for sure, the Vocals are certainly inspired.
Whilst the rest of the ensemble weave a bobbing chant of what sounds like "shoo-am-I, Shoo-am-I, Shoo-am I Shoo", the lead Voice interjects with grunts and 'yeahs' whilst an Organ or Synth sounds like a cross between a bumblebee and a stylophone, all the time the lead Voice gets more strained, eventhough you can almost tell he is lying down!

Electronic wind sounds signal a different direction for the track now and is flagshipped by a sound which is made, I think, by (a Tape Loop of ?) reverbed Electric Guitar strings which are struck to make it sound like an odd sort of ritual bell.
Flutes and Tin Whistles flutter to the wind electronics and Sleigh Bells, backing an almost out of tune Synth (of course, this makes it all the more strange!).
Tinny sounding Taped Church Bells herald the last segment of 'Part 1' and a more positive rhythm from the Hand Drums then glides in with more infectious chanting before a small explosion brings it to a halt.

The second half of this extraordinary (monged?) record ("Debon part 2"!) begins with Acoustic Guitars circling a forgotten nursery rhyme toon along with a cuckoo sound and dogs barking in the near background, ushering in more Voice gruntings and some very strange sounds sliding to and fro, so many things happening but at the same time there is a good sense of space amongst all the sounds.
A 12-string Guitar comes in to send things a little off-kilter whilst the Voices, dogs and cuckoos swirl around your head.

This is a must for headphones, it's like there was a bunch of seasoned stoners on an expedition along the vast ice carpets in the tundra, consigned to being totally lost but evoking their gods through herbs and music (okay, so it's a normal weekend for some!).

They've experimented with the Percussion to great effect, using it through various electrical processes and it's easy to see a line of evolution through to modern day Japanese groups especially Ghost and the more laid back material of the Acid Mothers family.

When Can discovered Damo Suzuki busking on a Munich street and asked him to join them all those years ago, I think there was an instant (kosmische) connection between Japan and the European left-field musics that started some sort of mystical lineage... hey! perhaps it's best NOT to listen to Brast Burn with headphones will certainly travel- that's for sure, and far out (man) at that...

Brast Burn are apparently linked with Karuna Khyal, some people say they were the same band, they had the next release on Voice Records and were also treated to the CD remaster courtesy of Paradigm, the album being "Alomoni 1985" and a more psychotic outing altogether!

If you enjoy Faust and Can (especially the E.F.S. sketches) and are partial to the aformentioned Ghost and Acid Mothers albums of recent years, then you'll certainly enjoy this music here and as I've already mentioned, all praise must go to Clive Graham for doing such a great job on the CD presentation.

Where are they now ??

Written by Tim Jones august 2003


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