The Brian Jonestown Massacre

Musique de Film Imaginé

Written by: BV on 23/05/2015 21:05:13

The Brian Jonestown Massacre is an entity not easily defined, these days. Having had their initial heyday with powerful releases like “Methodrone”, “Their Satanic Majesties’ Second Request”, “Give it Back!” and “Take it From the Man!” the band fell into something of a slump, according to a great deal of fans and then returned to splendor with “Revelation”. Now, The Brian Jonestown Massacre moniker is also found on a concept album of sorts – a soundtrack to an imaginary French film. Does this sound ambitious? Yes, it sounds ambitious as hell and what’s even crazier is the fact that BJM mastermind Anton Newcombe actually pulls off the project.

Constructed around an imaginary French film, the tracks are all meant to set certain moods for certain scenes – what those scenes depict, however, is totally up to the listener according to Newcombe. It’s an intriguing setup for an album and on tracks like “Après Le Vin” it is quite compelling to actually do so. Hit by the cautious, steady build-up of the track it is easy to conjure up the imagery of the very first scene of the film – setting the tone for what is to come, with its sparse instrumentation and slightly ominous, sort of endearing musical theme.

With “Philadelphie Story” the soundscape turns to the more dramatic, instantly dishing out imagery of vague conflict or the start of a trajectory that will inevitably lead to conflict. As one of just two tracks featuring vocals on the album, it sets a slightly differing mood from that of the remaining album. The lyrics, written entirely in French, are incomprehensible to me – but the way in which Stéphanie 'Soko" Sokolinski sings them sets the mood perfectly, making an understanding of French slightly superfluous as the delivery is more than enough of a translation in their own right.

The soundscapes found throughout “Musique de Film Imaginé” are all highly ambitious, thus displaying Anton Newcombe’s versatility as a producer and, indeed, as a musician in his own right. However, on tracks like “L’Enfer” Newcombe’s ability is displayed at the very greatest level. The dramatic, minimalist setup is powerful and alluring without any sort of necessity for more melodious elements. The strings alone sound so huge that it is hard to not be completely fascinated by them – but when they are constantly driven forward by a steady drum-beat and few subtle layers of synthesizers adding ambience to the mix it is nigh impossible to figure out why Newcombe has yet to get a serious offer to compose soundtracks for films – with his hands completely free to pursue his ideas.

Places where the album fails can be counted on one hand – however, one of these places is sadly a very dire one. I find it hard to imagine how most people nowadays will have the patience to actually listen to “Musique de Film Imaginé” as a whole, which is where its greatest strength is found. It is not an album made for being picked apart and added to playlists and what not. It is an entity best experienced in a darkened room where the listener’s imagination can roam free – as the music rightfully deserves. In short, “Musique de Film Imaginé” is a bold move from Newcombe and the Brian Jonestown Massacre moniker as a whole – but daring as it may be, it is highly successful at what it sets out to be. It would be cool to see it performed as a whole at one point, with a regular BJM set to follow it. That would probably be a great experience.


Download: Philadelphie Story, L’Enfer, Le Sacre Du Printemps
For The Fans Of: Ennio Morricone, Bruno Nicolai, Armando Trovajoli

Release date 27.04.2015
A Recordings

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