Reviews for Plume...
Big Chief still belong to one of my favorite bands, and sometimes I ask myself if they will ever release a new album or what the members are doing now. This album of GIANT BRAIN, which has been released from Small Stone Records in 2007, is the answer to my question. Well, it's not the complete answer to all my questions, but among the names of the line-up from this band (or project?) I have found Big Chief guitarist Phil DŘrr. Other musicians here are the brothers Andy and Al Sutton, who have also invited a few other guests into the studio. The result of this gathering is 'Plume', that consists of five long instrumental tracks, what makes it to a real album with a running time of almost 50 minutes. It's very curious that most of the song-titles are in German language, but it can be seen as a hint to GIANT BRAIN's musical roots. They draw a lot of influences from bands like Can and Neu!, especially this straight hypnotizing grooves which are the foundation for most of the songs. Phil DŘrr's guitar adds a space rock flavor to the songs, so that the music do remind me to Hawkwind at times, as well as all the other psychedelic sound f/x, which have been integrated here. Due to the fact that most of the songs are about the ten minutes mark without any break between them, it's like listening to a long session which never becomes boring or pointless. 'Plume' is a trippy and psychedelic experience, and despite the 60's and 70's quotations it's far away from being a total retro album. It's fascinating how a song like 'Die Festzeit' is growing with every further spin, not only because an organ enriches the song structure, while 'Krauter' kicks off like an early Suicide track due to it's mechanical rhythm, before it changes the texture more and more. Overall this album is a real positive surprise, which unfolds more and more details comparable with a look into a kaleidoscope. I think, that people who are more interested into heavy riffs could have their fun with 'Plume', too, and I hope we will hear more from GIANT BRAIN in the future. Exceptional!
-KKMarch 1st, 2008www.cosmiclava.com
For fans of: Peter Frampton does ambient trance, Kraftwerk, the Mars Volta
Here's what it is: So Moby is off the Jesus kick, he's started doing acid with the kids in the neighborhood and they're doing guitar heavy trance versions of old Peter Frampton and Boston songs. Just kidding, this is Giant Brain and they like guitar chops. They also like repetitive techno, and possibly disco. These five instrumentals (two of which break the 10 minute mark) are a potent blend of thick guitar riffage and spacey synthesizers. While rocking this disc you don't know if you should play air guitar or chase the little green men who stole your rainbow. I chose the former.
Patricia ValeryMay 1st, 2007www.evilneedles.com
From the future and back. This is a really nifty bridge connecting todayĂs pathetic and doomed present with a brighter and certainly groovier future. Funny enough, this future sounds organic and even refurbished to a degree. Even the robotic vocals in opener ˘Ausgesetz÷ sound so approachable you can obviate them if they only cause annoyance. Plus, they are only present for a few seconds, thatĂs it. Funny also how even without C3PO speaking the circular bassline, the insisting and almost squarish drums and that wobbly guitar, which eternally solos in a singular wave length, makes of this record the perfect piece for your morning jog.
Listening to Plume I think about Kraftwerk, not because Detroit based Giant Brain is a deadpan electronic combo but because they craft futuristic rock with the most rudimentary of elements. I see no reason why something like this couldnĂt have been crafted twenty-five years ago. Sure, the end of ˘Ausgesetz÷ comes with the inclusion of one of those deaf-sounding thumps courtesy of any DJ from London to Ibiza and then back. But no worries, thatĂs this trioĂs edge, their ability to connect the dots, to make of their natural instrumentation the stuff of the future. ˘Looper÷ starts organic, with a single-note guitar and the most basic of drumbeats reminisces of an enlightened Interpol had the New Yorkers forgotten about Joy Division and had opted for embracing the roomiest kraut rock acts.
Giant Brain currently resides in stoner castle Small Stone so we couldnĂt possibly finish this meager review without mentioning one more sub genre that this combo encapsulates; stoner rock. Yes, it is true, where the genre seems too entrenched in guitar traditionalisms, lower tunings and an idiotical obsession with the green leaf Giant Brain captures that same spirit and avoids sounding stoned, or read, almost mongoloid-like. The songs extend for near no end, ˘Looper÷ goes over the ten minute mark and while the rocking guitar solo stands nicely along that ringing sound and the monotone drums it still comes off as near futuristic, well-polished, almost metallic, and stoner by default. At this point we are looking forward to this bandĂs true capabilities.
HanselApril 2nd, 2007www.deafsparrow.com
Detroit muscle rock meets German electronic rock in an epic battle on PLUME, a luxurious five-track escape administered by Giant Brain. The brainchild of Detroit scenesters that include the producers of some of Small Stones' most ornery acts and the ex-guitarist from Big Chief, this liberating release is laden with elegant grooves, trippy robotic beats, and a rigid yet flowing kind of rave DJ meets rock band aura that dudes that engineer Volkswagons and hit up Oktoberfest can normally fathom. But don't fret, there's enough material for your Hawkwind and desert rock side to rock out to.
Mike SOSMarch 7th, 2007www.316productions.com
Classic Rock Magazine (UK)
Phil Durr, the guitarist from Detroit's finest blaxploitation soundtrack revivalists Big Chief, teams up here with a couple of mad scientists, and together they concoct the first electro-stoner rock band. Looped fuzz-groove guitars click and clack around glitchy drum machines and various chirpy synths to create a swirling soundscape of compellingly gritty hypno-jams. In the right light (murky, purple) it's masterfully concocted headphone rock, but squint a little, and it might remind you of one of those guitar-shredder instrumental albums that your dorky older brother used to play relentlessly back in the late 80's. Use your illusion on this one.
SleazegrinderFebruary 27th, 2007www.classicrockmagazine.com
Penny Black Music (UK)
Detroit band Giant Brain is all about the krautrock. The five instrumental songs on the trio's debut album 'Plume' bear all the hallmarks of repeat listening to motorik?ą outfits like Kraftwerk, Neu and Harmonia. They also share an uncanny resemblance to other krautrock-fixated outfits like Circle and its offshoot Pharoah Overload - lead track 'Ausgesetzt' would have been right at home on the former's 'Andexelt'.
Fortunately for fans of this genre, Giant Brain has more than the right influences; a finely honed sense of dynamics keeps the listener entranced through adrenalized guitar riffing, distorted drones, oddball loops and the titanic wigout of the finale of 'Krauter'.
Band member Al Sutton has done production, engineering and mixing work for a variety of acts (indie groups the Laughing Hyenas, Don Caballero, Thornetta Davis, the Detroit Cobras and Big Chief, while major label stars like Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow have all called on his services at one time or another) and he's given the album a powerful, layered sound. Ex-big chief guitarist Phillip Durr keeps things from sounding too mechanical with an expert handle on sustain and volume control. Al's brother Andy rounds out the band, providing most of the bass while a handful of Detroit musos guest on drums, varying organs, a bit of guitar.
'Plume' is a gripping example of psychedelic motor rock, and another very bright light in the Small Stone label's expansion from its stoner rock origins.
Andrew CarverMarch, 2007www.pennyblackmusic.co.uk
Hell Ride Music
Giant Brain's 'Plume' is a left-handed hook out of the blue from a label that specializes in the finest of stoner/Detroit metal, from Valis to Novadriver to Sasquatch. Once you give it a listen, however, the connection may be a bit more clear. The moral of the story is that when a label is known for producing quality discs, it's worth your time to check out everything they do, 'cause they may have an ace up their sleeve that you don't know about.
'Plume' may be off-putting at first, recalling as it does a certain vein of 70s Krautrock, i.e. the mechano-trance motorik of Neu! and Kraftwerk and the plain ole' trance of Can at their most repetitive. Mix in a bit of trip hop and more recent groups like (early) Pharoah Overlord and you're close. The songs, which are 99% instrumental and blend together, typically start with a simple guitar or electronic figure which is soon augmented by more electronic effects and some garage-bang drums and driving bass. This will slowly morph and progress from one phase to another, which can be either more or less effective, depending on your preferences. At it's best it's a an adrenalized soundtrack for an android road race, and at its worst it's.....well....kind of dull. In all cases, however, Phil Durr (ex-Big Chief) contributes beautiful, psychedelic guitar solos that always save the day. To these ears the guitar is what really ties it to other label releases.
With albums like this one and the recently-released disc by Slot, Small Stone have shown that they can expand their sound without sacrificing quality. God bless 'em! Their sense of adventure is our gain.
Kevin McHughMarch 19th, 2007www.hellridemusic.com
All Music Guide
It makes sense that a trio from Detroit would wish to re-create the constant-forward-momentum vibe of Neu!'s Motorik rock and Kraftwerk's Autobahn, given how both were so inspired by the trance-state engendered by highway hypnosis. Given Detroit's place as one of the key cities of American metal and garage rock, however, it's equally commonsensical that Giant Brain rough up their take on vintage Krautrock with heavy guitar riffs and muscular drumming more akin to vintage Stooges. The five lengthy tracks on Plume unfurl slowly -- "Looper" and "Krauter" alone account for 30-plus minutes of the album's running time -- but implacably, built on riffs that develop into invitingly hypnotic drones. Plume isn't at all the usual fare for the Small Stone label, which usually deals in full-on stoner metal, but it's an intriguing diversion that bodes well for future cross-cultural experiments as more of the stoner metal audience discovers the lysergic possibilities of vintage Krautrock.
Stewart MasonMarch 9th, 2007www.allmusic.com
The Cutting Edge
Plume is like a cup of cold water in the face. Even for us open-minded types this was a reach but the more you play it, the warmer it gets. The best way to describe the CDs five tracks is fuzzed-out electronic rock with a European flare. Detroit guitarist Phil D?rr combines talents with brothers Andy (bass) and Al Sutton (loops and knobs) to create a spaced-out set of jams that ebb and flow from right speaker to left. The occasional rhythmic patter picks up when a drummer sits in on the set. The seven-minute ˘Ausgesetzt÷ gets the whole thing going with a hypnotic beat and a sea of guitar texture. At first itĂs partially obscured in the overall layering and then brought in to focus with forced volume. Both ˘Looper÷ and ˘Krauter÷ are mind-altering stoner soundscapes - both clocking in at way over ten minutes (˘Krauter÷ actually goes for 19-minutes). A number of instrument sounds including keyboards and piano find their way into the mind-numbing drones setting a pulsating bed for the guitar to slice its way through. The build is worth the wait so hang in there to the end for a whirlwind ride of feedback and all out six-string chaos. The organ spattered ˘Die Festzeit÷ rises from the garage floor with a screeching eclectic nature while the shorter ˘Der Amerikanische Albtraum÷ throws down an early Ministry-vibe with the drum setting pace leaving just enough room for the funky guitars to grind out spliff stained notes.
Todd K. SmithFebruary, 19th 2007 (Issue 63)www.thecutting-edge.net
HowĂs this for multi-cultural: Detroit power rock and German psychedelic mantra made sweet, sweet love and the result is this bouncing baby buntinĂ. Motor city guitarist Phil D?rr (ex-Big Chief) joins in sweaty matrimony with local heroes the Sutton brothers (producer/engineer/mixer to the stars Al and bassist/electronicist Andy) for Plume, a magnificent journey into the erotic possibilities of feedback, motorik and lots of guitar rifferama. On ˘Looper,÷ ˘Ausgesetzt÷ and the mind-boggling epic ˘Krauter,÷ the Suttons and several guest drummers erect rock-solid foundations of rhythm, on which D?rr swings his axe in brilliant excess. Plume is music that revels in little more than its own sensual gratification. And thatĂs enough.
Michael TolandFebruary 12th, 2006http://community.livejournal.com/highbias
Krautrock from Small Stone Records? What in God's name is going on here? I thought the Detroit label was the home for classic rock and heavy riffs, not trance-like beats and hypnotic grooves.
Actually, it's not that strange. After all, the label's also the home to Perplexa, another band that flirts with the same style of music, and Detroit is commonly referred to as the Motor City. While labelmates like Sasquatch and The Glasspack bring to mind muscle cars tearin' ass down the highway, the sound of Giant Brain is more akin to the motor purring under the hood. Push the engine as hard as you can - it'll get louder but it'll never falter.
Such is the case with Plume. The album's five songs start with a basic premise and then flow from there. There's a progression, but not in the verse-chorus-verse sense. The dynamics come from the band ű Andy and Al Sutton, along with former Big Chief lead guitarist Philip D?rr ű layering each track's central idea with new sonic elements. What starts as a simple riff or rhythm expands into the grandiose, especially on the 19 minute opus ˘Krauter.÷
Plume will probably take the Small Stone fanatics by surprise ű after all, it is a far cry from the label's usual fare. But fans of Pharaoh Overlord and the like will be captivated by Giant Brian's pulsating music. Good stuff indeed.
John PegoraroDecember 31st, 2006www.stonerrock.com