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Brainville - The Children's Crusade CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

2.85 | 10 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
3 stars BRAINVILLE was one of the many so-called Canterbury supergroups and with the bigwigs like Daevid Allen of Gong and Soft Machine, Hugh Hopper also of Soft Machine and Pip Pyle of Gong, Hatfield & The North and National Health, it's impossible to phrase it otherwise. The band was rounded out by the addition of Mark Kramer who was a bassist and producer and cohorted with many bands including New York Gong, Shockabilly, Bongwater and Dogbowl just to name a few. On the band's one and only studio album THE CHILDREN'S CRUSADE, he handled keyboards as well as production duties.

While the band officially existed from 1998-2006 they only managed to squeak out this sole studio recording in 1999 with a few live albums to follow under the moniker BRAINVILLE 3 which signified the new lineup of Allen, Hopper and Chris Cutler on drums. This band and album has been somewhat a blip in the canon of the prolific musicians involved and remains a rather unappreciated obscurity in the massive sprawling list of releases that these Canterbury stalwarts participated in during their decades long careers.

If one is to expect the usual Canterbury jazz-fusion technical workouts laced with lyrical whimsy and intricate instrumental workouts then i'm afraid you've come to the wrong project from any of these performers. THE CHILDREN'S CRUSADE, while having clear references to Daevid Allen's stint in Gong as well as having jazzy periods of Canterbury recognition, is much more in the noise rock and avant-garde camp with a larger than life fuzz bass in modern times more associated with drone metal bands like Earth and Boris rather than anything that came from the most beloved subgenre of progressive rock.

With eleven tracks clocking in over 51 minutes, BRAINVILLE are just plain weird with angular janglly melodic meltdowns, completely freaked out glissando guitar psychedelia and lots, let me repeat, LOTS of distortion drenching the entirely album like a Sonic Youth festival at Guitar Center. The compositions are not laced with those quirky and charming pop hooks either but are rather nothing more than instrumental freeform jams with extended passages into a total breakdown of form although at least one of the instruments, usually the percussion remains somewhat rhythmic while the guitar and bass have a free for all in hyperactivity.

While mostly instrumental, vocals do occur from both Allen and Kramer but the majority of the album is a tribute to noisy fuzz- driven fantasies. When Allen's vocals are at the helm, the Radio Gnome Trilogy era does come to mind in the over-the-top trippiness of it all but the fuzzed out freakouts are more akin to his work with the Acid Mother's Temple on the 2004 Gong release "Acid Motherhood," which was a more structured and accessible style obviously derived from this completely unhinged improv session called BRAINVILLE.

I doubt many will appreciate this from the Canterbury crowd but for those who love chaotic noise with hints of melodies struggling to coalesce as if everyone involved is heavily sedated and struggling to find reality, then this will surely find a place in your thumb's up category since the drive is relentless and the muddled murkiness of it all points more to atonal masters such as Glenn Branca and no wave bands like DNA rather than the Canterbury resumes of the musicians involved. Very much for the open-minded and adventurous noise lovers but for traditional Canterbury-ists, you'd best give this one a miss.

siLLy puPPy | 3/5 |


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