Stoner wit is a rare find, but you know it when you see it. The band name Brainbow sounds like it comes from a dorm-room listening of Dark Side of the Moon, or the conversation during a long, tripped-out hike. . . you know, "the whole universe is, like, an atom in a giant’s fingernail, man,” moment.
All jibes aside, there is an amazingly talented local band called Brainbow that may or may not have lived any of those events (though surely they heard “Dark Side” in a dorm room sometime. Didn’t everyone?). But judging by the sound of the band’s self-titled debut disc, full of acid-damaged, desert sun-scorched, instrumental guitar psychedelia, they’ve at least read very good accounts of events like those.
Instrumental rock, for all its charms, is rarely anyone’s first pick for a live show, but Brainbow has made a case for it over the past couple of years, even garnering a sizable fan club in the process. Especially with those who like a little experimentation with their wine and cheese.
The album opens with the long, slow strains of “The Cast,” which splits the difference between Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd and jazz guitar guru Bill Frisell at his most loose and free.
Toward the end of its eight-minute lifespan, it takes on the warm, swirling guitar miasma used to such a wonderful degree in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, when shoe-gazers walked the Earth. Those of you bemoaning the lack of a revived My Bloody Valentine show no closer than Chicago should take “The Cast” for a spin.
Such an expansive piece is pretty de rigueur for Brainbow, and indicative of the otherworldly mindset their live show induces.
Instead of relying on that formula, the band explores a lot of nooks and crannies, occasionally stepping outside the expected prog rock conventions.
“Trance Figure,” which picks up where “The Cast” leaves off, is a lot more driving and kinetic, embracing a noise-rock framework akin to a much livelier Jesus and Mary Chain b-side.
“Feather Mountain” carries a great deal of weighty darkness amid its seven and a half minutes, and “Hex Remover” manages to tear it up unlike any other track on the album.
Keep in mind, this is measuring Brainbow against Brainbow, and if you aren’t up for long, slow-moving guitar jams, even really interesting long, slow-moving guitar jams, this may not be your bag.
Which is fine. That means more psychedelic guitar rock for the rest of us.
The Other Paper