There are few bands from the 90’s Neo Psychedelic era still active and fewer still who are as prolific as Brian Jonestown Massacre. Much of the credit for this goes to band’s founder and musical mastermind Anton Newcombe and his insatiable musical drive. The storied Newcombe is relentless in his need for creative output. In the last 18 months he has had three releases with the Brian Jonestown Massacre.
In addition he co-wrote with Tess Parks and produced their joint effort “I Declare Nothing”, all the while touring extensively. He finishes out 2015 with the release of Brian Jonestown Massacre’s mini album Thingy Wingy which arrived on November 13th. He is currently working on a sound track for the movie Moon Dogs. If you look up prolific in the dictionary there is a good chance his face is in the illustration.
Thingy Wingy is the 15th studio album for Brian Jonestown Massacre and follows up both the 2014 release Revelation and the mesmerizing April 2015 release Musique de Film Imagine. Thingy Wingy is more in keeping with the legendary sound of Brian Jonestown Massacre with simplicity being its ultimate charm. The release also attests to Newcombe and the band embracing their current internationalism but never forgetting their American Psychedelic underground roots. They are successfully transitioning from a San Francisco Cult band into seasoned European expats with an impeccable ear.
Ever the champion of musical independence Anton is a living example of the idiom; he who laughs last laughs the longest. Newcombe is legendary for in the 90s holding out against corporate sponsorships and was told he was a fool. In hindsight what looked foolish to everyone at the time looks brilliantly prescient as Newcombe now owns all his own music. Newcombe a transplanted American residing in Berlin has his own label and recording studio. He controls his musical ventures answering only to himself. Begging the question so who is the fool now?
Collaboration has become more of a hallmark of Brian Jonestown Massacre’s work. On this release Newcombe co wrote the song Pish with Tess Parks, Alex Maas guests on the song Dust and Slovakian Valdamir Nosal appears on the song Prsi, Prsi. Thingy Wingy was co produced, engineered and mixed with Newcombe and Fabien Leseure. Renown as an 60’s music aficionado, the title of the album comes from a George Harrison quote in the Beatles movie “Help”, when he stated “Look, the thingy wingy.” Newcombe adopted the phrase as his own as he explains, “I call the illuminati the thingy wingy, any conspiracy is called the thingy wingy.”
As a “Granddaddy of the Psychedelic genre” Newcombe with Brian Jonestown Massacre operates his musical mixer combining bits and pieces and comes out with amazing concoctions. He is as he labels himself a musical artisan, combining eastern influences, European finesse and his beloved trippy psychedelic stylings and comes up with something engaging each time. Pish starts off Thingy Wingy and is additively listenable with its swirling atmospheric sound. The chiming guitars and wavery oscillating vocal track make for a delectable start to the release.
Prsi, Prsi is a collaborative work with Vladamir Nosal front man for the Slovakian indie pop band Queer Jane providing the vocals. The word “Prsi in Slovakian means breast so read into that what ever you want. The song itself has a dramatic acoustic guitar with production that is straightforward and uncluttered. You don’t need to know the Slovakian language to appreciate the beauty of the song. The vibe of the music harkens to Brian Jonestown Massacre’s “Musique de Film Imagine.”
Get Some is my favorite track of the release. There is a fantastic drum intro and the song is uncomplicated hook filled and gritty. The guitar work on the track is phenomenal. The song deals with obsessive love for an underage girl, as it were an updated Lolita. “Got get that girl or you’ll go insane” could certainly have been spoken by Humbert as it is sung on the song.
Dust is a cover and tribute to the Texas psychedelic legends 13th Floor Elevators’ and their 1967 psychedelic hymn. Alex Maas front man from the Austin, Texas psychedelic band The Black Angels plays electric jug on the track as a tribute to Tommy Hale a founding member of the Elevators. The song contains a number of classic BJM sound signatures making the cover their own. The track is a trippy lovesong to nature and mankind Leave it Alone is another strong track on the release. This tune fits perfectly with 2014’s Revelation in sound and its essential parts. It is moody, psychedelic and evocative. Do not miss the oh so satisfying guitar jam out. This song is quintessential BJM. Mandrake Handshake is a scary good instrumental. It is refreshing and vibrant showing off Newcombe’s miles deep musical abilities.
The final song Here Comes the Waiting for the Sun is a playful juxtapostioning of 60’s references. It is a mash up of The Beatles and the Doors titles with a vocal that could have been taken from Donovan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man”. It is unique and enthralling with its urgent tribal drums and glistening guitars. Newcombe again proves he is an eccentric musical genius; the song grows on you like moss with each listen.
Thingy Wingy is a bijou gem of a release. It leaves you wishing it was longer and gets under your skin making you hanker to listen to it again and again. It is daunting to contemplate how gifted Newcombe is and how prolific. Thingy Wingy yet again meets the high musical standard Anton constantly sets for himself. One can hardly wait for the next installment of musical goodness from the Maestro. Most assuredly it won’t be a long wait.