The Brainiac 5: Another Time, Another Dimension
CD | DL
Released 7 May 2021
Compilation album of unreleased material from Cornish prog/punk/psych band The Brainiac 5. This set is made up of ten songs from their initial incarnation from 1976 to 1980, Pain In A Bowl from 1995, Sludge by the current live lineup and three brand new tracks, one of which features the returning original band member Bert Biscoe. Ian Canty travels through time and space in a CD-playing Tardis…
Another Time, Another Dimension came about after long-running Cornish outfit The Brainiac 5 decided to sift through their archive. This was prompted by one of their old numbers cropping up at random whilst the band members were listening to music. Happening on a large amount of good quality, unissued offerings from over the years, they were also sparked into recording some new songs after band associate Martin Griffin sadly passed away recently. In patching together the new material and unissued items from their back catalogue, this collection manages to provide the listener with a decent overview of three separate eras of the Brainiacs.
It quickly becomes clear that the 1976 to 1980 Brainiac 5 aggregation was some distance away from being a standard punk/new wave act, though they did more than dabble in that area. They seem to veer off wildly in several directions, at times during the course of the same piece. Accordingly, opening track Spring Fever finds the band mixing funky bass, near-prog guitar and a dash of new wave into something unique, poppy and enjoyable, perhaps like if Television came from Cornwall instead of New York. Jet Fighter finds the Brainiacs in a touch more jagged frame of mind, but this tune still comes complete with a catchy chorus.
Both I Call Your Name and Dancing In The Sun dip into reggae rhythms, but the latter brings rock influences to bear as the song goes on. Flying Tonight is a more typically new wave effort, an energetic live cut that shows The Brainiac 5 thriving in an onstage context. Do Ya comes over as smart punk r&b, with a definite touch of early Wire about it, but in contrast Khazi Persona harks right back to the sound of the mid-1960s rhythm and blues. This is followed by a fairly faithful (to the Nashville Teens version anyway), r&b rave-up style cover of garage favourite Tobacco Road. A very punky I Feel Good (a band original and nothing to do with the James Brown song I Got You) and the cool psychedelic art-rock of The Warning brings the first incarnation of the band’s contributions to an end.
(In lieu of any album tracks online, here’s the band playing Matelot Mick in 2012).
The band’s “wilderness years” (their words) through the 1980s right up until the band reformed in 2012 are only represented by the one offering here, Pain In A Bowl. This track gives the listener a rough idea of the music Syd Barrett might have made had he re-emerged amongst the late 1990’s chill-out dance scene. Next comes the current gigging version of the band, caught live at The Gunners Pub in 2019. Sludge shows what a solid outfit they are in a live setting, with plenty of pure hard rock power propelling this one along nicely.
The final trio is made up of new tunes. Never Say Never finds three of the members from the early years of The Brainiac 5 reunited. Bert Biscoe, Charlie Taylor and John “Woody” Wood combine well on a pleasing country blues number, even if it bears little relation to their sound in the 70s. Then comes the title track, prime bass-propelled art rock which highlights the neat interplay between the male and female vocals. They finish off with the lightly skanking and fresh sound of Our Devils, which showcases some serious Jew’s Harp action and is completed by a short acoustic blues coda/hidden track.
This is certainly a collection more for The Brainiac 5 obsessive, which isn’t to say that there isn’t a good deal of fine music on offer, just that it perhaps isn’t the ideal place to start for a newcomer. In fact as an odds and ends record, Another Time, Another Dimension stands up rather well. It does an admirable job of charting the band’s continued development through live and studio recordings. Though they are very much a one of a kind, The Brainiac 5 are a distinctive taste worth getting to grips with and that is much in evidence here.
All words by Ian Canty – see his author profile here.