Brainville The Children’s Crusade

Hugh Hopper is best known for his tenure with seminal UK art-rockers Soft Machine between 1968 and 1974. As a bassist and composer Hopper was active both before and after his Soft Machine days, however, the last few years have found this innovative old timer finding his creative stride anew. Hughscore was originally formed in 1995 featuring Hopper alongside a number of young collaborationists involved in various avant art jazz circles. Vocalist and keyboardist Elaine diFalco, bassist Fred Chalenor and percussionist Tucker Martine work with Hopper to create an impressive range of progressive compositions on Delta Flora, the band’s third release. The overtly melodic material ranges from warm subtle tones and ambient atmospherics to complex arrangements full of rhythmically complex, jazzy excursions. The beautiful art-rock creations often find comfortable song structures contrasting with the engaging experimentation that Hopper is noted for. The result is a stunning album of controlled musical exploration, which is as far as you can get from Hopper’s other recent project, Brainville. Hopper’s earliest musical work began in 1963 when he performed in a jazz and poetry trio featuring Robert Wyatt (who Hopper later joined in Soft Machine) and Allen (who founded Soft Machine and went on to form Gong). 1999 sees Allen rejoin Hopper in a project called Brainville, helmed by contemporary psycho-naut (and relative youngster) Kramer. It was actually Allen who gave Kramer his first paying gig as a bass player for a New York performance of Gong. Kramer’s obviously never been the same since. Rounding out Brainville is yet another Gong alumnus, Pip Pyle one of the many drummers that made their mark on the constantly evolving group. As Brainville, this quartet conjure up quite a mess, full of rawk, fuzz and confusion as the random jams create a very loose cacophony of far out sounds. Recorded live in the studio, it sounds like these old guys really had a quite the party. The best tracks hold down a small semblance of structure like the sea shanty ode to Lolita’s lover “The Revenge Of Clare Quilty,” the progressive instrumental “Brain Villa Eclipse” and “Goodbye Mother Night” featuring Allen’s obtuse lyrical bent reminiscent of his best Gong offerings. Supposedly this is the first of more Brainville recordings to come. Let’s hope this creative lot will be able to focus their attention a little more effectively next time around. Kids today! (Shimmy Disc)