Exposé Online banner

Brainiac 5 — When Silence Was Sound
(Reckless, 1980/2014, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2015-11-11

When Silence Was Sound Cover art

Listening to these recordings, which date from the late 70s, is kind of a strange experience now. That was a time when stripped-down punk rock was in the ascendant and complex progressive rock was on the wane. At least that was the general flow – there were numerous bands bucking the trends, as well as others who just seemed to exist apart from everything else going on. As an example, take Hawkwind. While their roots clearly lay in psychedelic and progressive rock, they adapted to the times without losing their identity – the 1978 Hawklords album presents a hybrid between classic space rock and raw punk energy. At the same point in time, Brainiac 5 was producing similar music: at times straightforward enough to fit in with punk rock, but with spaced-out psychedelic touches that pure punks likely spat at. It’s no surprise the band didn’t find wider success in that climate. The Soft Boys are somewhat comparable with their version of psychedelic rock, but they also labored in relative obscurity at the time. In the 80s and 90s, there was a resurgence of interest in psychedelic music, and some Brainiac 5 material saw reissue on Reckless and other labels. When Silence Was Sound pulls together pretty much everything the band recorded in the 1977-1980 period, most of which never appeared at the time. There’s 1978’s Mushy Doubt EP and the “Working” / “Feel” single from 1979. The “Time” / “Monkeys and Degenerates” single from 1986 featured songs recorded in 1978 and 1979; an album was recorded in 1979, but didn’t get released until 1988 as World Inside. All of those are here, barring some duplicates eliminated – we get the single version of “Working” instead of the album version, for example. For added value, two tracks recorded live in 1980 are tacked on the end. While the recording quality of some of the songs is rather rough, the music is pretty solid, and there are enough surprises and gems to make it worth checking out. It’s kind of cool to hear a freaked-out wah-wah guitar solo in a thrashy punk tune (“New Dark Ages”), and the massive harmony vocals on “Time” are a bit like The Moody Blues. I love discovering corners of history that I’d never been aware of, and with Brainiac 5 now reactivated, it’s great to see why they matter.


Filed under: Archives, 2014 releases, 1980 recordings

Related artist(s): The Brainiac 5

More info
http://brainiac5.bandcamp.com/album/when-silence-was-sound

Latest news

2017-02-20
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more

2017-01-31
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more

2017-01-30
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Cabezas de Cera and Jack o' the Clock, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more

2017-01-27
Acoustic Festival of Britain 2017 Announces Eclectic Lineup – The Acoustic Festival of Britain has been going since 2006, and this year's event sees a number of outstanding artists on the bill. Fairport Convention, Tir na nOg, and Martin Turner are some of the artists we've covered, and there are many more, including The Men They Couldn't Hang, Howard Jones, Chantel McGregor, and many more. The festival runs June 2-4, 2017 at Uttoxeter Racecourse in Staffordshire. » Read more

2017-01-26
Butch Trucks RIP – Butch Trucks was one of two drummers in the first incarnation of the Allman Brothers Band in 1969, helping the band achieve its legendary status as an American original. He died on January 24, 2017 of a self-inflicted gunshot would. He was 69. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Kultivator - Barndomens Stigar – This obscure Swedish progressive quintet originally released Barndomens Stigar on the small, but very excellent Bauta label in 1981 and it has since become a highly coveted and very expensive...  (1996) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues