Released in 2004, Electric Fungus was the third album from the Brain Police -- a specialized task force assembled to protect and serve the interests of true blue rock & roll and, in particular, its blessedly renegade spawn: stoner rock. Too bad the quartet's efforts were confined to the lonely isle of Iceland, though, because their services would have come in mighty handy for helping to stall the genre's gradual decline in popularity throughout the '00s -- even if the Brain Police's specialty entailed preserving a stylistic purity rather than forging innovation. After all, stoner rock was largely founded on the premise that the classic hard rock and proto-metal sounds of the '70s and late-'60s had never been surpassed; and so it's only natural that the Brain Police would be perfectly content to keep mining this rich vein of inspiration indefinitely, even if it leads them to the bowels of the very earth. Indeed, much like other European outfits such as Sweden's Roachpowder and Holland's Dozer, prototypical Electric Fungus fare like "Coed Fever," "Paranoia," the mildly soulful "Mr. Dolly," and instrumental opener "Stay Rock," pursues a predominantly mid-paced, riff-based approach, where finding a groove and riding it for all it's worth usually supercedes bombastic fits of sonic pique. The same can initially be said for the sci-fi-themed "2113 (Sea Weed)" and "El Capitan (Raspberry Jam)," yet both tracks unexpectedly give way to lysergic instrumental codas, replete with feedback and space-age synthesizers, respectively. Those synths make another surprisingly fitting contribution as the solo section of album highlight "Beefheart," just before singer Vagn Leví indulges in some manic, growling rambles inspired by the Captain himself. And the band also makes frequent use of warm organ backdrops, reminiscent of such legendary precursors as Uriah Heep and Atomic Rooster throughout the cryptically named "Undercover Through Your Mother," and the trippy second half of epic "Mushcream Caravan," whose first half sounds more like Black Sabbath, thanks to driving circular riffs. By the time we reach the chuckle-inducing finale proportioned by "Acid Machine Revisited" (no way to describe this one, sorry -- maybe imagine the Fonz stoned out of his mind), Brain Police have more than justified their relative stoner rock purism through their ability to infiltrate the brainstem like so much Electric Fungus.
released 26 August 2008
Brain Police are:
Jón Bjorn Ríkardsson: Drums & Gong
Gunnlaugur Lárusson: Guitars, Piano, Synths, Backing Vocals, The Machine
Hordur Stefánsson: Bass
Jens Ólafsson: Vocals
Hrafn Thoroddsen: Hammond organ
Axel Árnason: Piano, Falsettos
Arnar Sigurdsson: Machine Operator
Produced by Axel Árnason and Brain Police.
Engineered by Axel Árnason.
Additional Engineering by Gunnlaugur Lárusson.
Recorded at Syrland Studios, Reykjavík / Sonny Studios, Reykjavík / Parents On Vacations studios, Akureyri.
Mixed by the Flexotron at Syrland Studios.
Mastered by Kevin Metcalfe at The Soundmasters, London.
Artwork Design by Modi.
Cover Photos by Gudmundur Freyr Vigfússon.
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