Greatest hits: album reviews

Album of the Week: Musique de Film Imaginé by the Brian Jonestown Massacre

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 May, 2015, 10:37pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 May, 2015, 10:37pm

Musique de Film Imaginé
The Brian Jonestown Massacre
"A" Records

Forget about the self-destruction and the tumultuous in-band fighting. Forget about the insanity, the delinquent behaviour and the battles with drug abuse. As Anton Newcombe and his fellow psychedelic rock revivalists The Brian Jonestown Massacre unveil their 15th album, Musique de Film Imaginé, you can also forget any expectations about its style.

Seemingly waving bon voyage to the acid-tinged psych-folk that BJM mined for 20-plus years, the band's unquestionably talented but erratic leader is taking the project in a new, and cinematic, direction. While last year's majestic Revelation saw Eastern influences on their dreamy and obscure sound, Musique de Film Imaginé (Music From Imagined Film) was conceived as an original soundtrack to a movie that doesn't exist, and pays homage to great 20th-century European film directors such as Godard, Truffaut and Resnais.

Recorded in Berlin (where California-born Newcombe is now based), this is effectively a solo recording with guest performances by French chanteuse SoKo (the melancholic Philadelphie Story) and Italian actress Asia Argento ( Le Sacre du Printemps). The pace is certainly restrained, as woodwind, keys and xylophone build moody, often maudlin, instrumental landscapes of shoegazing atmosphere. It works best treated as a whole - perhaps in a darkened room with headphones, strong coffee and a pack of Gitanes.

As always, Newcombe happily stumbles along the fine line between genius and pretence, which will disappoint the average BJM fan (only Elle S'Échappe sounds anything like previous BJM), but as a soundtrack album to an imaginary movie, it's très bon.