London / Oxford-based SCRAP BRAIN are back with a long player that expands and improves on their dirgey and unconventional brand of hardcore punk. This time around the group embraces a wall of sound approach; this is a record that sounds both huge and claustrophobic at once. A dissonant take on FLIPPER with one of the best lyricists in contemporary music. Limited to 500 copies on black vinyl, this is a split release with Drunken Sailor. Recorded and mixed by Jonah Falco (FUCKED UP, CAREER SUICIDE, GAME).
Our take: After an earlier 7” we get a debut full-length from the UK’s Scrap Brain. I was interested in Scrap Brain’s previous 7”, but I never gave it time to sink in. In retrospect, I think the 12” format might be the most appropriate place for Scrap Brain’s dense and wide-reaching music, as it not only allows the band to cover more musical ground but also gives the listener more time to sink deeper into the band’s well of grime. And boy is this record grimy! Scrap Brain’s base mode of operation is a Flipper-inspired lurch, but they rarely just do that. Instead, they augment things with a catchy guitar riff or bass line, unexpected tempo changes (sometimes speeding up to blistering hardcore tempos), and envelop everything in a swirl of chaotic noise that keeps my ear interested even though it’s nothing one might describe as a riff or a melody. It’s not unlike what Violence Creeps did, but noisier, darker, and more frightening. Scrap Brain also have a lot of what I’ll call “expressionistic hardcore” in their sound. I’m thinking of bands like Neon and Mozart who can abandon conventional rhythm and melody, engaging instead in the spontaneous and physical eruption of energy I associate with the most out-there free jazz. Scrap Brain sound like a punk band trying to do a musical version of an abstract expressionist painting, and I love it. Even more impressive is that Scrap Brain can reel it back in and build a more structured context around those moments of pure expression. Journey Into Madness is a wild ride and occasionally a tough listen, but if you like the bands I’ve mentioned, you might be one of the few who can get down with this.