Brainstorm - Earth Zero
Year of Release: 1995/2001
Catalog Number: n/a
Total Time: 59:02:00
Australia's Brainstorm has re-released their 1995 album Earth Zero. Like their 1998 release Tales Of The Future, a classic rock style is the order of the day, for the most part. There were a few occasions when I thought of fellow Aussies Midnight Oil, though vocalist Paul Foley doesn't really sound like Peter Garrett. It is more than the being countrymen. One of the 60's/70's sign posts would be The Guess Who, though generally I think of 60's UK rock.
The album opens with a paean to the open road: "Freeway." Ignoring whatever subtext there is or may have been in Queen's "Bicycle Race," this particular track has a similar simplicity in message. Where as with Queen it was "I want to ride my bicycle,"* here it is "I like driving the Freeway in my car." Of course, besides being dedicated to a friend named Gary, the track also speaks to one of the themes that runs through out the album. Wondering about the title of the album, though? Well, it's a bit of wink in some ways, which is the obvious reading. But if we recall the dystopic future posited in Tales Of The Future, of the ecological disaster that plagues the earth, we can read the title of what's left to and of Earth. A similar theme, mankind's impact on the world around him, is explored in "Vandal's Hymn." A lot of the context is provided an introductory essay that remins us that, as the world around us evolved - technology, for example, so must we as a species. Old paradigms are outdated, and those that are in power need to work with not against these changes. In "Vandal's Hymn" Brainstorm use Tiennamen Square as but one example. You might recall the man who defiantly (or so it appeared) stood in the middle of the street while tanks were rolling. Other touchstones are the fall of the Berlin Wall. Both of these are sketched in just a few lines, relying on the listener to fill out the imagery. The Wall coming down was comparatively peaceful, though the desires of those who were or wished to be liberated sprang from the same place.
Each of the tracks take as an underlying theme the need for change - that without change lies destruction. With the 10-plus minute "Armageddon," you can fairly guess what that's about - nuclear war and its fall out literally (radiation) and by implication - the end of civilization. In truth, both would be literally.
So, what you get here are very heavy themes and ideas couched in both snappy rock arrangements and spacey, atmospheric tracks - 60's UK-rock meets 60's American surf rock meets 60's psychedelic rock. Of this latter, it is mainly of Pink Floyd you will think - "Statis" with its gently undulating spacey rhythm and dreamy atmospheres, ditto "Triplanetary." "The Last Long Summer" is a mellow, acoustic track that wouldn't have seemed out of place on The Wall, as Foley evens sounds a bit like Roger Waters. But, also a bit like Bob Dylan. Floyd also crops up again in "V - Afterglow" (the third part of the "Armageddon" suite). "Back Home On Terra" contains a rhythm that makes me think of, ahem, Gordon Lightfoot's "Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald" (yes, that song again).
There is something very appealing about Brainstorm - that something is the deft way they can get a message across without being pushy and yet create entertaining music. The best of both worlds, actually, for those into music that makes you think and music that makes you move. And what better way to motivate someone into action than by motivating them into action (activity)?
Freeway (4:11) / Vandal's Hymn (4:40) / No-one Knows (4:28) / Stasis (4:49) / Slow Train Of The Lie (3:33) / Back Home On Terra (3:01) / Triplanetary (4:11) / The Last Long Summer (2:14) / Anarchy (3:16) / Tyranny (2:57) / Armageddon (20:56): I No Tomorrow - II Segue 1 - III Morning Red - IV Segue 2 - V Afterglow - VI Omega
Steve Bechervaise - keyboards and synthesizers
Craig Carter - guitars, vocals, sequencer
Paul Foley - vocals, guitar, recorder, synthesizer
Jeff Powerlett - bass and vocals
Phil Schreck - drums, percussion, and vocals
Earth Zero (1995)
Tales Of The Future (1998)
Desert World (2005)
Genre: Progressive Rock
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