Written By: Jordannah Elizabeth
“Third Wave Anton Newcombe.”
It’s difficult to begin this review because I don’t want to be overzealous. I don’t want to blurt out that this is probably the best album Anton Newcombe has ever written. I’ve spent so many years fighting with my editors on the tiniest morsels of semantics and nuances of the full portrait of Newcombe’s work, and at the same time, I’ve been holding my breath through the “Post Brian Jonestown Massacre Era” waiting for Newcombe to wake up from his jet setting haze of manic soundscapes, and to return to the heart of the matter, and back to the root of the deepest layers of BJM’s artistic statement. The “Post Brian Jonestown Massacre Era” is a collection of the band’s work spanning from 2008’s My Bloody Underground to 2010’s Who Killed Sgt. Pepper and 2012’s Aufheben.
I think during those albums, many of us (music critics, fans, colleagues and particularly everyone who truly cared about Newcombe’s sanity) were so thirsty to know what was on his mind, only to receive strange, experimental snippets of his own existential perspective on his life and travels.
The new 2014 release, Revelation is an honest account of Newcombe’s artistic statement as a man, a father and someone who has finally faced his own heartbreak. Like his earlier work, there are prevalent touches within the album’s production style that end up coating his lyrics through heavy reverb and lofi pyrotechnics, and there are plenty of satisfying shoegazy, experimental effects and ornamentations throughout the entire work. But it seems like Anton has awaken from a deep Van Winkle experience, and has decided to candidly sing us lullabies about what he’s been through.
The album begins with the Swedish language-opening track, Vad Hände Med Dem?. Newcombe’s international fascination will probably continue to be included in most of his future works, but the mood quickly transitions into Newcombe’s real talk track, What You Isn’t, where he lays down the wisdom that many of his listeners need and have been yearning for. The next songs, Unknown and Memory Camp are quintessential tracks that create a smooth ebb and flow as the album glides towards Days, Weeks and Moths, one of the earlier demos that sculpted the final version of Revelation.
The second half of the record morphs the album’s entire vibe, tunneling into a post-apocalyptic, art-core musical cave of awesomeness.
The track, Duck and Cover is what BJM’s last album, Aufheben should have sounded like. Newcombe’s weird ideas have completely gelled on this record, creating instrumental tracks that sound like German drum and bass EDM on LSD. The album also showcases a mastered version of Food for Clouds, which is another early demo, and seems to be a continuation of the dialogue of the song, Clouds are Lies from Aufheben.
Although there are certainly new genre-bending sounds coming from Revelation, there are tracks that hold true to BJM’s classic compositional style. Songs like Unknown, Days Weeks and Moths and the final track, Goodbye, Butterfly, bring comforting sonic nostalgia to long time BJM fans. The record essentially washes over you and sounds like a Flying Lotus style alt psych record that is so damn beautiful, intriguing and refreshing.
All in all, Revelation seems like it is the wrapping up of a six-year artistic journey and metamorphosis Newcombe began when he landed in Iceland, and packed his Anglo-American frame with insane amounts of amphetamines during the writing and recording of My Bloody Underground.
Revelation finally creates an open emotional dialogue where his listeners are not on the outside looking in, but can identify with him, and finally get a glimpse of what’s going in Newcombe’s sober, real life.