The Edge of Innovation: DON’T GET LOST by the Brian Jonestown Massacre



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Don’t Get Lost (A Recordings) – the Brian Jonestown Massacre’s 16th studio album – seals the deal. Recorded in Berlin between May and October 2016, the record encapsulates the creative breadth of BJM and, in so doing, provides an excellent and concise introduction to the band for newbies. But also, as usual with leader Anton Newcombe, the record takes even the band’s most die-hard fans into new sonic territories.

Track one, “Open Minds Now Close,” grooves as only BJM can, with Newcombe remolding the sound of Neu! to fit the BJM aesthetic. The track is sheer excitement and guts – an 8:15 epic that previews the seemingly endless creativity with which Don’t Get Lost abounds.

In other words, the album – as it jumps from style to style (Primal Scream’s 1991 masterwork Screamadelica comes to mind) – doesn’t let up. It gives a banquet of tracks that satisfy and inspire on many different levels. I know it’s only February, but Don’t Get Lost is so sonically diverse and imaginative that it makes a case for being the only record you’ll need this year.

It has everything. Songs like “UFO Paycheck” and others continue the innovative dance grooves of “Open Minds Now Close.” For example, the Tess Parks-sung “Throbbing Gristle” is simply one of the most monumental (and noisy) songs that BJM have ever done in this style. Meanwhile, her breathtaking “Dropping Bombs on the Sun” provides Don’t Get Lost with melancholy beauty. The duo’s chemistry has only improved since their I Declare Nothing album of 2015.

Shaun Brown joins BJM on “One Slow Breath.” The spoken-word piece features piano and keyboard atmospherics. But Newcombe’s genius is to distort Brown’s voice to force the listener to pay attention, just as the BJM leader adds layers to his soundscape as the track builds.

Serena-Maneesh’s sax player, Emil Nikolaisen contributes to both “Geledenes Herz Menz” and “Acid 2 Me Is No Worse Than War.” The former smacks of fusion-era Miles Davis, whereas the latter combines searing sax lines with dance-floor-ready electronica.

“Nothing New to Trash Like the Sun” is pure rock and roll, in which Newcombe plays an indelible riff, making the guitar speak a new language. Speaking of guitar, the Tim Burgess-sung “Fact 67” includes some of Newcombe’s most delicate playing, which he offsets with an ominous bass. Burgess’ vocal is equally ominous, demonstrating the Charlatans’ front man’s artistic range.

Don’t Get Lost demonstrates that BJM aren’t lost at all. Newcombe knows just what he’s doing. From 2014’s Revelation to 2015’s I Declare Nothing and Musique de film imaginé to last year’s stunning Third World Pyramid to the current record, Newcombe has shown so much creativity, so much range, that one day soon a fan will write a love song for him, just as Newcombe once wrote one for David Bowie, another artist who always walked the edge of innovation.

Don’t Get Lost will be released on Friday, February 24, 2017