Brainticket is back! It's a band that is not very well known, but highly appreciated by their small audience. A true cult band. In the 45 years since their debut album they only released 7 studio albums. Their debut album Cottonwoodhill (1971, see review) was a psychedelic masterpiece far ahead of its time. Not understood by many radio stations, and what also didn't help was that they were banned in a lot of countries because some people thought the album promoted the use of drugs. Also the follow up albums Psychonaut (1972, see review) and Celestial Ocean (1973, see review) were masterpieces, all 3 different from each other. Psychonaut saw them move towards progressive and jazz rock, more laid back and song oriented. Celestial Ocean is a concept album where they also started to play with the Mini-Moog synthesizer.
After a hiatus of 7 years two ambient albums followed, Adventure (1980) and Voyage (1982). Some 20 years followed by another electronic album Alchemic Universe (2001). The only common member on all releases is the Belgium born Joel Vandroogenbroeck (organ, piano, synthesizers, flute and sitar). In 2011 the first albums were finally officially released in the United States via Cleopatra records. This was followed by a short tour in the US. The live band included Len Del Rio and Tommy Grenas, better known as Anubian Lights and who also played with ex Hawkwind member Nick Turner in the past.
And now there is a new album. An album that refers very much to their earlier work, the first three albums, both musically and thematically. The track Brainticket Blues reminds of Brainticket part 1 and Brainticket part 2 from the debut album. Proto Alchemy refers to Alchemic Universe while Egyptian Gods Of The Night Sky is a reference to the Celestial Ocean album, which is a concept album about the ancient Egyptians and their religion. All the recognizable elements from their first three albums return: there is the typical organ sound from the first album, but also the beautiful piano play, the sitar and the flute. The vocals, often more spoken word. A female voice, sometimes whispering and seducing, then screaming. Vague lyrics that leave a lot to imagine to the listener. Elements of space travel. Musically the band is often referred to as 'krautrock'. But Brainticket had its origin in Switzerland, moved to Italy, then back to Switzerland and ended up in the United States. Their sound fits better with bands like Hawkwind and Gong, spacerock with elements of electronic music, progressive rock, jazz and improvised music.
Apart from Joel Vandendroogenbroeck the band now consists of Bryce Shelton (bass), Jason Willer (drums & percussion), Mickey Garratt (acoustic and electric guitars), Kyrsten Bean (vocals and electric guitar) and Kephera Moon (vocals and keyboards).
Past, Present & Future is for sure a pleasant reunion. The album has a great flow. To call it a masterpiece is a bit too much honor. In 1971 this was new, but in 2015 not anymore. Besides it lacks songs like Black Sand from their first album that had just a little extra. The past is very present, but now with a new and young generation of musicians. To them is the future. On the last song Brainticket Blues the singer asks herself “What have we done?”. Well, I don't know, but I don't mind them doing it again...
**** Erik Gibbels (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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