Hi Brain – Vinyl // CD // DD
Stonefree Records – released April 7, 2017
Reviewed by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr
Band Members: Paul – Drums + Vox, Pat – Bass, Nils – Guitar, Bene – Guitar + Vox
From: Graz, Austria
Formed: Autumn 2013
Previous Releases: “Aquanautic Smoke Live Session” (Sept 2015) / “Surrealistic Pillow EP” (July 2016) / “Helsinki Live Session” (March 2017)
This record is High Brian’s first full-length outing for this quartet that represents an amalgamation from all over Europe that came together in Austria and realized they needed to create music together and went about that by spending many days and nights in lava-lamp infused light, weaving their tapestry of ultra-delay and phase-shifted distortion-saturated meanderings of musical madness, tempered in that glow of green haze that true psych/stoner bands just seem to flourish in. Tracks like opener ‘Liquid Sweet’ with the slow fading keys that lead right to the double guitar hit at 11 seconds in, show the 70’s psychedelic roots these guys wear proudly on their sleeves and there is the added clarity of in-studio production values that let EACH note ring out and every word be able to be heard. Each track on here has been previously included on one of the live releases and the one single for ‘Surrealistic Pillow’ b/w ‘Time’ – (see Video of ‘Time’ Below).
“Free like a stone, and far away from home” is how we are welcomed into ‘All But Certainty’ after an opening section showing the prowess of each member as they instantly gel with the staggering tempo that never falters. From the sky-high leads that fade off into the plucky notes opening ‘The Sun & I’ that build and build into a crescendo of fuzz and wah before another galloping pace is set. The flow from one song to the next is truly smooth as glass. The over-pumped 70’s wah-pedal gives that retro-warmth that High BRIAN, as they themselves refer to the aggregate, use to their advantage. The revamped ‘Surrealistic Pillow’ is tightened up and the guitar-edge is even sharper than the original release letting this song shine brighter.
‘All The Other Faces’ instantly made me think FRANK MARINO (Mahogany Rush) had entered the building with the spaced-out first minute plus that seriously felt like a time-shift back the 1970’s and permeates the entire five minutes plus with a lavish dose of heavy slathered on midway through. ‘Aquanautic Smoke’ is truly another slice of the unique visions that High BRIAN love to weave, asking you to “light up with them” as they traverse the billowing presence that surrounds. ‘The Conversion’ comes out of the gate with backwards drums/cymbals for the first four measures and the band hits hard with enough fuzz to make the air hum and as always, deep bass rumbles dark and pounding. ‘Blood Money’ is a more blues based track this studio treatment is as stellar as either of the other versions and gives the added benefit of that clarity mentioned earlier. The nuances of the guitar lines, including soft touches and hearing the keys haunting the background are things that may get lost in the mix live but are present to take in and allow for the full flavors to be enjoyed like the funked-out bass tone entering the last segment before the mini drum spotlight. The tempo keeps increasing from this point until it just… stops.
‘Time’ is the perfect bookend for this album as it allows High BRIAN to show how much, as a collective, they have grown together during the last four years. This version is the personification of a band that has pushed themselves hard to get to this level and it shows. The more you listen, the more it grows on you and sticks in your head. So go get it NOW and support them if/when they come to your town!! Highly Recommend!!!