Brant Bjork – Jalamanta Re-Issue (2019)

After twenty years since the release of this album, the desert rock band, Brant Bjork produces a second take on their 1999 “Jalamanta”.  Due this September 13th, the music they invented decades ago shall remain and yet invite foreign and subtle factors, changing the whole project in a musical degree—becoming both a maintenance and exchange of time.

Lazy Bones opened the list. It was this intro with bass tones so distinct, willingly locked in a duet with the splashes of drum cymbals. The cool and suave temperature was perceptible. Then came Automatic Fantastic, having more a treble composition than the throaty groove of the old one. The onomatopoeic wah-wah of the guitar was near visual in a sense. It was a thought more pronounced. They added dimensions by the tempo.

Cobra Jab was an Arabic/Indian-tune contoured track. Containing less depth and more focused on progression, the air was crowded with this percussion heat. No vocals. It was how you seduce a snake from its basket. It formed this tribal dance in speed.

A song that was rock from the start was Too Many Chiefs… Not Enough Indians. Still fast like the old, but heavier in its beat. It has similar wiry entrances of electric guitar. The bass keeping watch throughout. Sun Brother had sharper drops of cymbals in the beginning and slid with the cue on bass again. There was more depth in this version. If the old one has this amorphous-mellow feel, in this you are able to touch the recesses of the song itself. There was a spirit present in it. The ethnic quality of the percussions were stressed and resonant. Adding occasional rests, a quick second of reducing their dynamics only to resume again.

In contrast to this, Let’s Get Chinese Eyes was perhaps a shallower rendition. The sounds were already on the surface of the song. No need to grasp them from beneath. With the same improvised- like guitarwork, it had a more metallic-feel of how its strings were bended and picked.
The seventh track, Toot, began with a white noise instead of its old-time rhythmic counterpart. It shelved a broader range of power. The instruments were solid on ground. There was this unclean type of guitar effects which made good accompaniment in this laid-back environment they intend to furnish. Instead of double voices playing simultaneously, this kept single vocals which added to its personality.

Defender Of The Oleander opened with a single chord at a time. Letting it hang in the spaces that followed. Also, it showcased that ethnic hollow-type percussion. Being progressive as well, it has a straightforward attitude with the direction of the song. Similarly, it revolves around this circle of specific instruments which builds a sphere of this genre.
Bones Lazy, a reversed title of the first track, was in fact, the intro of the original Low Desert Punk—which followed next— It was simply another version with a fleeting sort of feeling. With swishes and pulsating effects it went by briefly. Low Desert Punk came immediately. With a slight increase in tempo and relaxed/recurrent strumming, it also included a pause so characteristic of the band at this point. The vocals focused more on narration. No notes in the language but in plain words.

Waiting For A Coconut To Drop was perhaps a more defined version of the two. Although it started with the subtle strums, until the bass awakened, drifting off to short ad libs. It was consistent and nonabrasive throughout. Like a transition in monotony. By title, it spoke of anticipation indeed. Her

Brown Blood was alive in dynamics. The vocals here had a sneaky nature. Like that of a stealthy stalker following your footsteps. This was seconded by cringy guitar solo.

Indio presented that hand-tapped percussions again. The bass, as well as the hum of electric guitars were of stability. It was an unchanging piece. The fourteenth and final on the list, Take Me Away, was a good ending track. The wah-wah still there. It centred on less lyrics, less vocal melodies and more attention on mood elements. The suave bass licks did it again.

In these fourteen tracks, the re-release of Jalamanta was both a borrowed time and a loan of now. It maintained repetitive impulses, methodical instrumentations, being more of a background-type of music. Although may have traded the low-key mood and bass pinches for power and speed in percussions.


Review by Estefan Malgret.

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