Band members Related acts
- Ron Bryer -- lead guitar (1968-72)
- Jane Free -- vocals, tbilat, tambourine, slide whistles (1972)
- Werni Frohlich
-- bass (1971-72)
- Helmuth Kolbe -- sound effects, keyboards (1971-72)
- Casimo Lampis -- drums (1971-72)
- Dawn Muir - vocals (1971-72)
- Carole Muriel -- vocals, synthesizers, zither (1973-)
(replaced Jane Free)
- Wolfgang Paap -- drums, percussion, tabla (1968-72)
- Barney Palm -- drums, percussion (1972-) (replaced
- Peter -- witch doctor and good vibes
- Werni Pralach -- bass (1971-72)
- Martin Sacher -- bass, flute
- JoŽl Vandroogenbroeck -- vocals, keyboards, flute, sitar,
Les Sautterlles (Wemer Froelich)
- Toad (Werni Frohlich and Casimo Lampis)
Rating: 4 stars ****
Title: Cottonwoodhill / Psychonaut
Country/State: Belgium, Germany, Italy, Switzerland
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: double LP reissue
Catalog ID: SOLD 5052
Price: SOLD $75.00
I'm not sure what the story is behind this repackaging of the band's first two studio sets. Regardless it's a convenient way to get your hands on two hard to find and expensive releases.
The eye catching album cover should give you an early warning that 1971's "Cottonwoodhill" isn't going to appeal to your top-40/pop cravings. In fact, if you're looking for conventional song structures and characteristics like melodies and rhythms, then large chunks of this set (including the extended three segment title track) are going to leave you very unhappy and depending on your personal views on life, social responsibilities and other things, perhaps quite unhappy.
Trying to get a clear biography on this every changing multi-national outfit is a major challenge. From what I can piece together the band traced its roots to the mid-1960s Swiss band Dee Dee Barry and the Movements. In 1968 guitarist Ron Bryer, drummer Wolfgang Paap and keyboardist Joel Vandroogenbroeck split off on their own. The trio somehow ended up in Southern Germany where the lineup expanded to include bassist Werni Frohlich, keyboardist/sound engineer Helmuth Kolbe, drummer Casimo Lampis, UK singer Dawn Muir, and bassist Werni Pralach. The band subsequently caught the attention of the Swiss-based Hallelujah label which signed them to a recording contract. They were then picked up by the larger German-based Bellaphon Records.
Co-produced by Ingo Bischof and Helmuth Kolbe 1971's "Cottonwoodhill" started out with a pleasant pair of instrumentals in the form of 'Black Sand' and 'Places Of Light' before abruptly exploding into the aural equivalent of a 30 minute LSD trip. Propelled by Muir's droll singsong voice, an circular funky synthesizer pattern, and a maddening arsenal of then cutting edge sound effects, the extended 27 minute 'Brainticket' suite bounced all over the musical spectrum. Muir's acid trip narration was set to a weird sound collage that mixed assorted electronic squeaks and squawks with a wild collection of squealing tires, breaking glass, police sirens, tape loops, brushing teeth, gurgling, white noise, jackhammers, gunfights, and even a snippet of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. Add in Muir's performance which ranged from hippy trippy whispers ('be one to exist, the nucleus, the power, you are the source ... catch the wet') to acid soaked orgasmic shrieks and you had an album that was unlike anything else. It certainly wouldn't appeal to everyone, but I have to admit that there's something catchy in the resulting maddening mixture. Interestingly while it's been widely labeled as one of the trippiest albums ever released, I'll demure. Sure, it's extremely trippy, but the performances were quite professional, and even in the midst of the 'Brainticket' suite, the music was framed by a strong song structure, including that every present funky keyboard pattern and a recognizable melody.
"Cottonwoodhill" track listing:
Black Sand (Ron Bryer - JoŽl Vandroogenbroeck) - 4:30
Following the release of "Cottonwoodhill" the band apparently fell apart. Frohlich and Lampis decided to stay in Switzerland, reappearing as members of Toad. Holding on to the Brainticket nameplate Vandroogenbroeck moved his base of operations to Italy where he promptly recruited a new line-up, including singer Jane Free and drummer Barney Palm. Brainticket mk II subsequently debuted with 1972's "Psychonaut". Musically the sophomore album was a far more commercial outing (recognize I'm use the term loosely). All six tracks were relatively short and featured conventional song formats, including well structured melodies. Sure the results were still pretty eclectic. With Vandroogenbroeck responsible for all six tracks the opener 'Radagacuca' offered up a strange hybrid of African rhythms, jazz, Indian and progressive moves. I have no idea how this smorgasbord worked, but somehow it came together making for an interesting piece. (Anyone got a clue on the lyrics?) In contrast tracks like 'One Morning' and 'Feel the Wind Blow' offered up some of the weird wyrd-folk moves more commonly found on English folk-rock albums. Finally, 'Watchin' You' and 'Like a Place in the Sun' actually rocked (the former sporting a killer guitar solo, though the yelpy vocals took some getting use to. American singer/multi-instrumentalist Carole Muriel handled the spoken word segments on 'Like a Place In the Sun'. (In spite of the fact her vocal prowess was best described as limited, she became a full fledged band member on their next album "Celestial Ocean".) Not perfect, but all told this might be the set for the curious to start off with.
"Psychonaut" track listing:
Radagacuca (JoŽl Vandroogenbroeck) - 7:24)
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