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Brainbox - Dark Rose: their 45s (2012) review

Brainbox “Dark Rose: their 45s” (Pseudonym, 2012)

The persuasive buzz of 'Down Man' and the sublime rendering of Gershwin’s perennial ‘Summertime' from their eponymous debut are but two offerings that should make people acutely aware of the greatness of Dutch masters Brainbox. And if you’ve never copped an ear to the group before, then Pseudonym’s recent release of Dark Rose, a compilation of their 45s and more… is the ideal place to begin.

Jan Akkerman’s (pre-Focus) fiery-riffing that can be heard throughout the title cut is utterly superb, and will have you heaping high praise onto these guys instantly; it appears twice too, once in much shorter, delightfully crunchy demo form, while the other is a much lengthier interpretation, but with less of that particularly primal, guttural feel spewing from the guitar, that won’t be everyone’s cup of cocoa. There's also two variations of 'Sea Of Delight' on offer; the brevity, sharpness and sustained vibrancy of the first is, for me anyway, one of the standout tracks here, and indeed across the complete Brainbox canon.

Also highly impressive, and supremely melodic is ‘The Flight’, a compelling, and quite astounding piece of work that seems to want to push things - atypically for Brainbox - in the direction of the later Byrds. While I’m not overly keen on a lot of McGuinn and Co’s post-60s material, I love this track to bits and wanted to play it over and over again when I first heard it, but didn’t cos I didn’t want to disturb the record’s fine momentum. One of the group’s most thunderingly propulsive prog-psych slanted outings is ‘Virgin’, built around a heady dose of whirlwind guitar and battering-ram drums, of which the longer demo version has ex-Dragonfly man Rudy De Queljoe, and Frans Smit duelling for all their worth; not unlike the sounds frequently made by Can's Michael Karoli and Jaki Liebezeit.

There’s also a 23 minute plus demo of 'Sea Of Delight' that can, and does, get a trifle boring sometimes, but, fear not, as it also contains some seriously wiggy, and highly experimental passages. A wonderful set of photographs has been included, and informative sleevenote information flows from Mike Stax’s pen. Altogether this is a fantastic and very welcome release that you’ll need if you want to experience more of the Netherlands’ out-there sounds from the mad 60s and early 70s.

Review made by Lenny Helsing/2013
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