Released: 2009, Small Stone Records
Over the years Detroit has been a breeding ground for many great rock acts. One thing it hasn’t been known for is improvisational Kraut-rock influenced experimental music. Although a convoluted description, this spaced-out instrumental zone is where Giant Brain firmly resides. Despite the fact that it is all instrumental (which is never a favourite of mine) by all rights, I should love it as members of two of my favourite bands, Halfway to Gone and Five Horse Johnson are involved.
As soon as the driving guitar kicked in on opening song “Relentful Resentless”, topped by odd little bleeps and bloops, I was immediately intrigued. Sure enough, the following “This Is Where...” keeps up the insistent pace, featuring song excellent guitar soloing and more ethereal keyboard work. It’s too bad that the album gets progressively weirder and less guitar-oriented from there, lessening the enjoyment. Most tracks do feature some fiery lead work, but overall, the album becomes much more experimental than rock – never mind metal!
“Phones” and is perhaps the most egregious offender, being almost 3 minutes of pure keyboard-driven background noise. Then again, “Gooser” (love these song titles!) brings the interest back a bit, picking up the pace and guitar-quotient. “Space Mannequin” is appropriately spacey, perhaps being an insane person’s take on a dance song.
All in all, Giant Brain is just plain strange. Yes, THORN OF THRONS is a lovingly true take on the band’s beloved Kraut rock, but it is perhaps a bit too “out there” for its own good. A grower for sure, give Giant Brain a chance if you’re looking for something (really!) different.