Album Review: Brown Spirits by Brown Spirits

Sometimes it’s a matter of luck. The release of the latest Cosmic Fall album had me searching the Clostridium Records website to see what else Andreas (Krüger the label’s owner) had put out lately, and I was intrigued by the description:

Brown Spirits is an outfit from Melbourne featuring veterans of the garage punk euro-touring circuit. This LP offering was recorded to 1/4 inch tape and mixed on home turf, collating a love of Hammond-driven kraut-laden psych jams, downtempo beats and atmospheric guitar noise inspired by the Italian library/soundtrack genre. Think Guru Guru meets Floyd circa ’69 with a dash of benzo-riddled insanity from a vintage super 8 ‘adult’ film and you start to get the picture!

Keen to make the most of my postage costs I decided to take the plunge… and am I glad I did because the album has hardly been off the turntable since I got it at the weekend.

Brown Spirits are a duo (Tim Wold and Agostino Soldati) based in Coborg, Australia who have been part of a host of other bands in the past but, as far as I can see, this is their first outing under this moniker. If this is that case then what a debut it is. There is so much going on here it’s going to be a interesting task to cast some light on the music  and try to describe what’s afoot. So without more faffing about here goes…

I was pretty much sold on this album within the first minute of opening track ‘Lysergic Library’, which really sets you up for the rest of the record. Within that short time you’re getting jazz, drum ‘n’ bass, krautrock together with some sinister flourishes that are suggestive of the Italian influences to come. As the track expands out, though, it is the Hammond organ that really wins me over, it’s pretty much perfect here providing a smooth continuity as all else fragments around it, a stunning opener.

This segues nicely into ‘Kaiser-Panorama’ with its motorik beat and funky bass providing the backdrop to some nice angular moments in a track where the other sounds appear cut up and splintered. This goes straight into ‘Flying & Falling’ which sets of with a wall of feedback before breaking out in something more considered, but again continuing the album’s theme of pulling together elements that are separately seemingly disparate yet together just seem to work.

‘That River Ain’t For Swimming’ takes this further with an amazing mix of genre that takes in jazz, dub and kraut, while that organ comes to the fore again in ‘Xan With Red’ returning to the funk of earlier, this time even more weirdly mixed in with some sinister soundtrack sounds that spans the musical spectrum in a way that few try.

This funkiness continues with ‘Back To Atoms’ which sees a return of the drum ‘n’ bass beat together with some great guitar work that really sends the number off on one as the repetitiveness of the backing track really grabs hold of you and pins you back to the wall while the guitar slaps you across the face in a manner that makes you just grateful to be alive. This leads into ‘Another Vintage Phase’ which takes yet another turn. Many of the previously mentioned elements are there, but the Italian film influences are much more evident here with some very forthright weirdness taking centre stage. The introduction of some early Gilmour Floyd guitar adds a further dimension to the track which as time feels like its about to break through into something more bucolic, but never quite does.

After the short interlude of ‘Precursor’, we get the big finish with ‘Optokinetic Response’, a nine minute long odyssey through the bands music. One of the things that struck me when listening to the album this time though was that the tracks seems far too short. I like them so much I would much rather they be twice the length at least. This track gives some indication of what that might look like, a stretched out jam that really gets deep into your listening places until you find yourself to be completely lost in it. Again its the mixture of sounds that by themselves would be smooth and relaxing with more fragmented pieces that provide challenge and…well… strangeness in just about the right measure to make this a track, and an album, that I want to start just as soon as it’s finished.

There’s nothing like taking a chance on an album and it turning into something you really like. Indeed it happens too infrequently for it not to be anything but special. So I have no idea whether my lack of expectation had anything to do with how I received the record, but I suspect not because this is something that is something of a one-off as far as my musical experience is concerned, a one-off that I’m sure will be revealing more and more to me on these repeat listens.


Release information:

  • limited to 370 copies
  • pressed in Germany
  • handnumbered
  • black poly-lined innersleeve
  • 240 x black 180gr
  • 130 x splatter ( + 13 x 13cm photo )
  • ALL: incl.insert & downlaod-code

Available now from Clostridium Records.


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