Thursday, August 14, 2008

Brainticket - "Cottonwood Hill" LP

Gaining prominence in psychedelic/krautrock circles, perhaps partially due to the endorsement of one Steven Stapleton of Nurse With Wound (who all but covered parts of this with his 'Brained By Falling Masonry' track in 1984), this wild acid-freakout release from 1970 still sounds foreign and outlandish, and may well frighten even fans of 'darker' musical strains. This is definitely not a record for children, either, as it's pretty well intense, even nearly 40 years later!

The opener, 'Black Sand' is a wild freeform rock track, while 'Places Of Light' is a slinky, funky little number with a flute solo. All very bohemian and 70's porno-like, actually, until it erupts into a heavier guitar-oriented flight, with spacy drug-trippy narration by Dawn Muir. This is definitely intended for chemical accompaniment!

The final 3 tracks are all part of the 'Brainticket' suite, and are undoubtably the centerpieces of the LP. Here, the record goes off the rails completely, with assorted (pre-sampling) tape effects and a skittering, jumbled, rhythmic assortment of motor vehicle engines, crowd cheers, school bells, sinister whispers, organ/guitar metronomes, breaking glass, teeth being brushed, water gargling, alarms, orgasmic female exclamations, train crossing bells, feedback noise, chimp screams, Beethoven, This is one series of tracks that you will never forget.

And so 'Cottonwood Hill' stands, an obscure yet legendary piece of hallucinogenic avante-rock, using surreal juxtapositions of sound effects to create an otherworldly 'trip' of an experience. It pre-dates the whole 'industrial' scene, which surely owes it a debt, and the out-there nature of it places it in some rather distinguished company. A landmark LP, and one that you really should hear.

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