It may have taken an unfortunate, poor experience with Warner Brothers to get JEFF The Brotherhood to start pushing the possibilities of what they could do with their music (the label didn’t really love the music and shelved a couple of the band’s releases during their tenure together) but, now that Global Chakra Rhythms is out and has presented a new image and sound for the band, it’s hard to not want to thank the label for frustrating the band so badly. JEFF The Brotherhood’s ninth album (and second released in 2015) finds the band totally abandoning all of the more straight-ahead rock tendencies they exhibited before (as two-piece bands are given to making) and exposing an interest in more psychedelic directions which is shocking, but that the music turns out the way it does makes it pretty exciting as well.
Right off the top, listeners will know they’re going to be in for something completely different from the band as a very gradual build warms up the album’s title track for about a minute and a half and presents a strange hybrid of Pink Floyd (Syd Barrett era, of course) and (close to sounding like Ronald Jones era) Flaming Lips psychedelia complete with manipulated tapes, odd effects, time signature changes, nasal vocals and real memorable improvisational passages which push the song to the seven-minute mark. Some fans who were won by the band’s leaner, rockier and more blues-based beginnings may curse and complain that the band has left most of the great things they’d done before behind and grown self-indulgent, but others will be thoroughly entranced by this new development; it’s not easy to enter and appreciate, but it doesn’t take long for listeners to find their way in – if they try.
And oh, how much better Global Chakra Rhythms gets as it goes. The dynamic outlined by the title track gets upheld by “Pringle Variations” (and, while not bad, listeners will find they’re glad it’s only three minutes long), but “Radiating Fibre Plane” redeems the album’s running by methodically building the composition to a great simmer before unexpectedly evaporating and “Deep Space Bound on the Edge of Reality” really hits pay-dirt with a droning, repetitive lyric sheet (“Zero gravity, zero time”) which pushes imaginations into overdrive because it causes listeners to trail off and follow the lap steel guitar licks behind the words, or the stomping drums. It might not sound like the most captivating sound in print, but it’s brilliant in practice; here, JTB really find the true heart of psychedelia in their desire to just chase an idea into oblivion and listeners will follow them just to see where they’re headed because their sparkling instrumental performances truly are hypnotic.
Listeners will just keep following happily along as “Mary Of Silence” just sort of trails the album’s B-side off into oblivion and spurs them to begin the C-side, and won’t mind at all that some of the going starts to get a bit dark, drugged and deranged with “Chilled To Bones” – where the album’s C-side stays until the time comes to change sides again. Needless to say, the middle playing of Global Chakra Rhythms is thoroughly bizarre (some detractors would say ‘weird for the sake of being weird’) but, while indulgent from a song-length standpoint (the shortest song on the C-side is a Still-Very-Laden-Of-Pace 3:50), listeners will find some interesting sounds to inhabit here.
By the time listeners finally make it to the D-side of Global Chakra Rhythms, they’ll either have reached the conclusion that they’re into what they’re hearing or they’ll be ready to pull the album off their turntables and forget about it forever – the sound and delivery is that divisive. Those who stick with the band through the album’s final side will find the finest Floydian turn that JEFF The Brotherhood has made to date in the mostly-instrumental “Pillars of Creation,” and the band even comes close to Kraftwerk-esque soundscaping with the hazy, fuzzy and sort-of electronc sound developments of “Black Onyx” before angling themselves to an ominous conclusion in “Whatever I Want.” The final track is lengthy (almost eight minutes) and turns in the general direction of Black Sabbath’s Ozzy-fronted moments of drugged out rock which basically ensures that those who hung around for the D-side’s running will STAY around when the band elects to enter the studio and produce a follow-up. What will it sound like? God knows – JEFF The Brotherhood has already tried on as many different sounds as they have albums available, but the really cool thing about that (and, by extension, about Global Chakra Rhythms) is that the band is able to PRODUCE INTERESTING ALBUMS using such a disparate palate. Once again, JEFF The Brotherhood has done something completely different on Global Chakra Rhythms and done it well. That might frustrate listeners who like a band which will stay close to one sonic home base from release-to-release, but it’ll thrill listeners who appreciate a band brave enough to draw their own map every time.