The Brainville 3 are a collaboration between Daevid Allen (electric guitar, ex-Soft Machine and Gong), Hugh Hopper (bass) and Chris Cutler (drums, ex-Henry Cow). Their collaboration has been going intermittently since 1997 - this album was recorded live at various locations in Berlin, London and Tel Aviv. As the line up suggests the music is rock-jazz fusion, nearly always improvisational or experimental.
I'll lay my cards on the table right up front and confess to being biassed: I've always preferred the Pierre Moerlen, Steve Hillage/Miquette Giraudy line-up of Gong than Daevid Allen's, so you can feel free to add a half or even a whole star's rating to my review. If you want to add any more than that then I suggest you book in for rehab!
No one is doubting the undoubted musicianship of these players but the problem I have with this album is that the balance is weighed too heavily in favour of the experimental/improvisational.
"Basement Suite" is the worst offending composition in this regard - and as is often the case in these matters, it is the longest of the album! The sleeve notes do confirm that it was recorded live in Berlin, but I failed to pick up any audience response whatever - stunned into silence, no doubt!. As I was listening to this gruesome piece I thought that the only possible way that you could enjoy it was if you were stoned! Lo and behold, the opening lyrics on the very next piece are "I've been stoned before"!
"Didditagin", the closing track, is one of the most bizarre pieces of music I've heard in a while, sounding as it does like a pastiche of The Kinks's "You Really Got Me" (That's the second time this year, after Van der Graaf Generator's "All That Before" from their Trisector album - what is it, Kinks's celebration year or something?) The piece just seems so totally out of place here!
There are occasional moments of enjoyable music-making, particularly from Chris Cutler, but these are too lost amongst the melee to persuade me to listen to the album again.
Trial by Headline is for die-hard fans of these artists only. If that's not you but you are looking for new jazz-rock fusion music then you could do worse than to try Qui's self-titled new album - see Sea of Tranquility's own review.
1) Trial by Headline (08:01)
2) Dedicated to PQ but she couldn't hear it (04:03)
3) Ocean Mother (07:52)
4) Who's Afraid (06:37)
5) Basement Suite (10:46)
6) I bin Stoned Before (08:33)
7) Return to Basement (01:38)
8) the Rubiyat of Honorium Tonsilitisk (01:54)
9) Hours Gone (05:21)
10) Didditagin (05:29)