The Brainiac 5 - Journey To X album review

Rejuvenated British psych-prog veterans redraw their sonic map

Cover art for Brainiac 5's Journey to X

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Veterans of the late 70s British psychedelic scene, Cornwall’s The Brainiac 5 had dissolved by the following decade but reconvened for 2013’s Sun Ra-influenced Space Is The Place EP. Since then the band have enjoyed an anthology of early material and released 2015’s acclaimed Exploding Universe.

For their latest, the band (singer-guitarist Charles Taylor, singer-guitarist Duncan ‘Mad Dog’ Kerr, bassist John ‘Woody Wood and new drummer Joe Malone) returned to North London’s Alchemy studio with producer Kenny Jones to forge a tougher, guitar-dominated set blessed with prog-flavoured twists and turns, starting with the west coast acid rock of Endless River Pt 1 exploding into Crimsonesque guitar squalls for its tumultuous climax. Most songs carry socially relevant messages or modern times indictments, although Elizabeth Jennings and Robert Graves are also in their mix. The World Inside rides a smoky cellar jazz romp (with vocals by Jessie Pie) before Kill It drives the album out on a US highway chug with major guitar upheavals ahead before dropping to a dirt slow death march. The 5’s sometimes forceful statements can be an acquired taste but full marks to a band nobody can deny represent the true spirit of dogged progression.