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Brainticket - Cottonwoodhill CD (album) cover





3.80 | 178 ratings

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4 stars Forget about those lame Parental Advisory labels. The first Brainticket LP actually had the following caution printed directly on its rear sleeve: "Only listen once a day to this record. Your brain might be destroyed! Hallelujah Records takes no responsibility."

Pure P.T. Barnum claptrap, of course. But unwary consumers should still approach the album with care, because there's more at risk here than the tender contents of your skull. Consider the possible damage to clothing, furniture, and any remaining shred of dignity after you simultaneously void your bowels, flush your bladder, and begin bleeding from every other orifice while enjoying this lunatic musical experience. And yes, enjoyment is the correct word.

The album opens with two songs almost designed to lull you into a false sense of security: a pair of mildly psychedelic funk grooves with polite stoner poetry ("Your mind will ache to be carried off in her silver light / pain will fill your being as you devour the beauty that evades your control...") Go ahead and laugh, but the words foreshadow the unrestrained mayhem waiting just around the corner, in the two-part, three-sectioned title suite, spread like a virus over the remaining one-and-a- half sides of vinyl.

The track opens, appropriately, with a loud crash and the siren of an emergency response vehicle, closely followed by one of the grungiest Hammond organ riffs ever heard on Planet Earth. That nervous, jerky keyboard rhythm will repeat for 25-minutes, functioning like an anchor for a dizzy array of random sound effects: alarm bells, raucous laughter, breaking dishware, vigorous tooth- brushing (complete with gargling and spitting), freight trains, Gatling guns (or are they jack- hammers?), manic chimpanzees and, at the end of Part One, the heroic four-note orchestral fanfare to Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C Minor. It isn't actually Krautrock, but where else would you put music like this, outside of a straightjacket?

And then there's Dawn Muir, the band's resident succubus: a lysergic Pandora opening the lid of her voice-box and unleashing a host of psychotropic demons upon an unsuspecting world.

Her performance (recited, not sung) is by turns seductive, menacing, funny, frightening, paranoid, ecstatic, and completely unhinged. I would love to have been a fly on the studio wall while the tapes were rolling and Ms. Muir was firing on all cylinders: whispering deep purple invitations, shouting brainwave non-sequiturs, hyperventilating on the edge of orgasm, and pleading (too late) for some return to sanity. Give her credit for holding nothing (repeat: nothing) back, least of all her unsteady grip on reality.

What it all adds up to is a unique but lopsided album, unbalanced to the point of near-collapse. The extended title track completely overwhelms the rest of the album, and likewise obliterates the band's entire subsequent discography, which can't help but sound tame by comparison. You may love the uninhibited self-indulgence, or you may hate the album for the exact same reason. But once heard it won't be soon forgotten, and there aren't many records able to make that claim.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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