Brave New World - Impressions on Reading Aldous Huxley. 1972 Germany

Brave New World - Impressions on Reading Aldous Huxley. 1972 Vertigo

LP reissue: 2016 Wah Wah (Spain)

There are certain albums that are distinctly European. They are about mood and texture, rather than complexity, technique and structure. Brave New World's "Impressions On Reading Aldous Huxley" (IORAH from here on out) is one such album that defines this type of European existentialism.

Tackling Huxley's "Brave New World" in musical form would require a rule breaking mindset. An ironic satire focused squarely on the Utopian work of H.G Wells, Huxley created a "science fiction futuristic" novel that is probably more realistic today than it was when published 75 years ago. And so appropriately enough, the Irish German combo that named themselves after the novel is, in effect, a bizarre journey into another world. But not a world that is unrecognizable, not one that requires leaps of faith in terms of technology. But one that is extracted from an existing philosophy and epistemology that we possess already.

The philosophical background is important in understanding this strangely compelling record. Because the music just happens. Like a slowly evolving soundtrack, with a strong knowledge of jazz and psychedelic rock. Flute and amplified lead guitar are at the forefront of the instrument parade, but there's many other instruments to provide a full palette of sounds and senses. Acoustic guitar, saxophone, exotic percussion, narration, cello, tribal drums, choirs, metronomes, organ, synthesizers, and on and on...

There really is no other album that sounds like IORAH. It's not intense or gloomy Krautrock. They're not jazzers experimenting with rock like Wolfgang Dauner, Sunbirds or Roland Kovac. From Germany, maybe Dom's "Edge of Time" provides a guidepost, but only in the overall zeitgeist, rather than in the actual execution. Perhaps we look to the French and albums such as Laurence Vanay's splendid "Galaxies" or even the later, but more underdeveloped, album by Flamen Dialis is the closest the radar will recognize. Unique albums like this - that are captivating, memorable, inventive, and still manage to exist within the rock aesthetic - these are exactly the kind of albums that I consider the greatest ever. The pure definition of a progressive rock record. Even the gatefold cover on Vertigo (released in Germany only) is world class.

Last update: November 6, 2016

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