Brennendes Gehirn – Epidemics of the Modern Age (CD, Ordo Pestilentia)

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Brennendes Gehirn is a fairly new noise project specializing in harsh noise drones; their collages of sound are often intermittently spliced with deep sonorous moments and static effects, but there’s also a tendency towards kosmiche and harsh noise as well. Epidemics of the Modern Age comes in a recycled digipak, with a booklet of artwork composed of two different colored circles of patterns.

At first, Brennendes Gehirn show their noisy side with the excellent drone track “Chorea Imagnativa Aestimative”, which gives us a raucous wall of droning sound with a pinging noise that continues to sweep around the track while a bassy, overdriven sound peppers the background. Later we get vocals, some static, and a lot of shifting within this heavy smattering of noise; it’s all almost overwhelming to the ears, a muddy sludge of sound, but still there are many different facets to pick out during the listen.

“Over Man and Beast His Flaming Sword” uses a more noticeable drone pattern; the same sort of monkey-like chirping from the first track can be heard on this one as well, with swells of synth giving the track the bulk of its theme but also small tensile moments where shrill feedback forces its way into the mix. Brennendes Gehirn gives their drones a harsh, edgy tension; the sound isn’t set and left, but always moving and shifting into darker, more explosive regions. “Annihilation (Awakens New Life)” has the psych sound I was talking about earlier, with congos, female chants, and some organ discovering new areas of drone, almost in the same way OM does with their exotic songs. It might seem a bit out of place on this disc, and I won’t disagree, but it still makes for an interesting interlude away from the harsher sounds.

“Elegie Für Clemens Scheitz” is a great stand-in for Merzbow; there’s a pulsing bass beat with standard drumming that sounds just like something Masami Akita would have done on Timehunter. Again, the track might be out of place on Epidemics of the Modern Age, and it certainly feels ordered stangely on this disc coming in second-to-last, but that doesn’t stop it from being a particularly exemplary track showing just how wide Brennendes Gehirn’s range is. Finally, “Chorea Sancti Viti” is the longest track by far at 20 minutes, and it starts out rather uninspired with a slow drone similar to the first track. But it slowly morphs into much more, with huge bursts of bass and a very sinister drone, making it a centerpiece on this disc.

Though it often jumps strangely between different strands of noise Epidemics of the Modern Age is a compelling listen from start to finish. The wide range here shows how well Brennendes Gehirn moves around the genre, and the noisy drones on this album are some of the greatest pairings of noise and drone I’ve heard in a while.

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