Brainstorm, Last Smile (Garden of Delights) http://www.forcedexposure.com/labels/garden.of.delights.germany.html Another recording from the seemingly limitless Garden of Delights vault, Last Smile is a refreshing Canterbury workout with few of the psychedelic tinges that normally show up on reissues from this label (not that the psych elements are necessarily bad). Like almost all GoD releases, the album is a reissue of a super-obscure German group from the 70's. Also like quite a few releases from the label, Brainstorm is a band that really had potential to do something incredible. The compositions on the disc are highly imaginative, allowing ample room for nice jazzy sax and flute solos with some Hatfield or Caravan-esque melodies and even vocals sections thrown in so that no one aspect becomes overbearing. The fact that the album was recorded live is a plus for me, because the band really seems to have a lot of energy on every tune. Musicianship is high, but there's enough roughness to make it exciting (though compared to some of the technically shoddy psychedelic bands, this sounds like a studio recording). The only thing that bothers me a bit is the vocals aren't quite as polished as the instruments, but the vocal sections are used sparingly (and effectively) so this is a relatively minor gripe. If five mostly longish tracks of jazz-rock / Canterbury-influenced prog with superb sax, flute, bass, keys, and drums sounds like your cup of tea, you'll like this album. A truly nice find. ~ Adam Murphree
Brainstorm: Second Smile (CD, 41:08); Garden of Delights, CD 047, 2000 Cyberhome/Contact: http://www.forcedexposure.com/labels/garden.of.delights.germany.html 10 words or less: Fine Krautrock with Fusion moments Elaboration: This is German progressive Jazz/Rock band Brainstorm's sophomore effort, originally released in 1973. This album starts off like a classic, complete with Mellotron, Flute and intricate unison lines in 11/8 time on the opening track. Instantly the listener knows, this is not your typical, loosely arranged Psychedelic Krautrock. The second tune, performed on acoustic Guitar, Flute and Percussion, starts nice and melodic then kicks into a frantic jam to finish. Track 3 presents the first vocal, sung in English, the vocals are the weak link in this album; not necessarily on this track though as they take on somewhat of a Greg Lake styling coupled with some wordless melodicizing. Fortunately the vocals don't encompass the entire song and there are Fusion-y sections interspersed in this 8-minute piece and the use of Clavinette creates an interesting texture. Track 4 is a fast paced instrumental with well played solos taken on Organ, Flute then Guitar. Up to this point I would give this album high marks for creativity and musicianship and track 5 starts off good enough in an Avant Garde Jazz style but just when it begins to take you in, some terrible vocals come and smother the tune. Fortunately, all is not lost and after the vocals cease, the tune ends with some great playing by the band. Track 6 is a long tune filled with vocals that sound terribly dated. Track 7 is the bonus cut, which is another dated sounding vocal tune. Overall, I give this high marks, especially the first half. ~ L Perez
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