BRANT BJORK – Jalamanta (1999 / 180 gram vinyl 2009 reissue)
I still remember the circumstances surrounding me originally getting this on CD. As recounted in an earlier Record Store Tale, Tom and I were at a party. We were listening to some sHeavy, and Tom mentioned the Brant Bjork solo album as another must-have. Being a fan of Brant Bjork’s drumming from Fu Manchu, I ordered it without hearing a single track. Tom attempted to describe it by calling it “a cross between Fu Manchu and surf rock.” Interesting.
10 years later, when Bjork reissued it on vinyl, he added the UFO-centric Blue Oyster Cult cover bonus track, “Take Me Away”. Automatic re-buy. It doesn’t really sound like the rest of the album, but who cares? It’s Brant Bjork covering Blue Oyster Cult. But that’s not the only reason to re-buy Jalamanta.
What a beautiful record! The first thing you’ll notice is the new cover. All black with the Brant Bjork skull embossed. Beautiful. Open it up to get at the booklet with all new photos. The booklet truly is a work of art. Remember when you used to buy an LP, and you’d sit down in front of your stereo staring at the pictures, trying to make out every little detail until the record was done? Brant Bjork takes us back to that time.
The cover page is what appears to be an awesomely greasy Mexican meal, and then the final page is the empty plate — a satisfied customer. Just like with this LP. You can really get stuffed on the grooves and tones contained herein. There are plenty of low-key, incessantly grooving instruments. The music is simple, repetitive, but effective. It’s not heavy, but it feels weighty nonetheless.
The lyrics are included. Here’s an example, from “Automatic Fantastic”:
The man shakes me down, that’s why I’m broke. Rich man’s got all the green but it ain’t the kind you smoke. So we turn up the rock, and we roll it slow. We’re always flying high, and the ride is always low.
Musically, if you haven’t heard this album before, I don’t really know how to describe the songs. Bjork plays almost everything himself, and the vibe is laid back. He sings on every song but “Toot” which is handled by Mario Lalli (Fatso Jetson). He’s chosen to mix his vocals way back and emphasize the unadorned guitars and drums. The mix is spare, quiet at times, loud at others, but always trippy. Imagine driving down a deserted highway on a hot summer night with the windows down. This is the soundtrack to that ride.
This is one of those album that sounds like it was just meant to be heard on 180 gram vinyl. There’s no sound like it in the world. I noticed a heck of a lot more bass, the bassline on “Lets Get Chinese Eyes” being particularly sublime. This album just sounds stunning now.
- “Lazy Bones” – 1:29
- “Automatic Fantastic” – 6:59
- “Cobra Jab” – 3:18
- “Too Many Chiefs…Not Enough Indians” – 3:44
- “Sun Brother” – 4:45
- “Lets Get Chinese Eyes” – 4:45
- “Toot” – 5:58
- “Defender of the Oleander” – 7:53
- “The Low Desert Punk” – 5:20
- “Waiting for a Coconut to Drop” – 4:17
- “Her Brown Blood” – 4:16
- “Indio” – 4:15
- “Take Me Away” – 5:35 (Blue Öyster Cult cover) vinyl only bonus track