stacked and re-stacked: joe murray on bren’t lewiis ensemble

February 1, 2016 at 1:50 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 2 Comments
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Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble – Hard Molt (CD-r, Butte County Free Music Society, BUFMS58, edition of 100)

Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble – Rapture Piles (CD-r, Butte County Free Music Society, BUFMS48, edition of 50)

Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble – Gloria (CD-r, Butte County Free Music Society, BUFMS49, edition of 50)

Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble – The Thirteenth Century German Poet (and who can forget him) (CD-r, Butte County Free Music Society, BUFMS55, edition of 50)

ble - hard molt

Like Duh!  The fabled Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble provide the high-water-mark for sheer sonic oddness.

With their Bananafish passport and Guru Gnarlos guidance this troupe of varying bodies are dab hands at tweaking tapes, throats, minds and other unmentionables to create a new psychedelic moraine.

Working like ants the loose connections wriggle in mobile units.  Senses become overlapped and smeared (I smell you, I taste you) until conversations are not just stacked up like tasty pancakes but woven into a yeasty lattice.

An urchin might read this and cry,

So it’s a bit of a head-fuck mess eh?

A sharp cuff to the brow will only reinforce the lesson, but for once I resist.  Speaking clearly I explain:

Never let it be said this is random abandon.  There is an underlying inter-connectivity at work here as old as the ancients.  As you listen you become part and parcel of the process.  You press pause or breathe out for too long and you become a remix-agent, a co-conspirator a new and valuable cog in the majesty of Bren’t Lewiis!

The urchin mouths,

but it’s still weird yeah?

…toothless maw full of demolished ket.


I respond and position the speaker horn nearer my ear for the full mono-sonic effect.

It goes like this…

Hard Molt – Vigorous mood swings between corrupted pop to sizzling milk to live-action rattle and roll.

After an initial period of acclimatisation to Bren’t Lewiis and the merry-go-round of co-collaborators I get my brain round the two fleshy hemispheres of Hard Molt; the slack live jam and the grim tape fumble.

The jams have a clammy looseness like when the band is trying to get it together before the prick with the spanking Marshall turns up.  The tape jizz has some real flinch and hobble like carpet stains stitched together, like hot sprawls.

An occasional dread enters things (for an example please listen to ‘the chert hold tightly’) but this disc is mainly a sherbet dip, an uncomplicated squeal of joy.  And listening is as innocent as watching a windsock flutter man.

The real to real tapes shudder, rusty ghosts pulling magnets across sharp shale and it all makes my ears swoop and whoosh like that time I did a kettle bell workout and went temporarily deaf.  Since then I’ve craved this whoosh dearly but dropped the weights.

Things progress and rattan furniture is stacked and re-stacked each bristling fibre setting off a dry crackle that recalls a woodland walk.

I’m signposting here.  It’s not about noise, it’s about noises.  A fresh sound is basting your turkey.   Time to try that red pill eh?

ble - rapture

Rapture Piles – This one surprises the listener (that’s me right now but it could be you tomorrow, reader) with a handful of cover versions.  Normally the amyl-hit of a pop-cover makes my eyes widen with a startled sniff.  And with Magazine’s ‘Permafrost’ and The Carps’ ‘Calling Occupants’ it ramps up the resident weirdo by injecting a severe dose of the norms.

But the showband is on a fag break and any slick accompaniment is replaced with a sea cucumber’s rude squirt.  And you know what?  Things are all the better for the Bren’t Lewiis whom-evers who’d rather mangle their hands than finger a chord.  Yeah!  I want to hear Devoto sing the dement-oid track ‘my mother wouldn’t let us use nicknames when we were kids’ as punishment, with its concrete poetry gone daffy vibe.

In fact Rapture Piles is less of an overall bimmer and takes me back to the sleepy whinge of The Tinklers that so excited my teenage loins.

ble - gloria

Gloria – If you like you can sum this monkey up in the one minute twenty micro-track ‘You Done My Brain In’.  Simple, descriptive and straight-forward; it sets the standard on Gloria and marks this disc out as the most bonkers, and most beautiful, of the bent quartet.

Yessiree! Real beau-ti-ful I said.

Throughout the reign of Queen Gloria vocals/voices/speech/talking take their rightful place – centre stage.  Draped in jewels and ermine the original voice pieces are wrangled slowly, sensuously with deep chunks of negative-mountain absence thrown in to keep it funky. Language is taken apart with deliberation and care, rather like peeling a soft-boiled egg.

Where recovered sound (from radio programmes and paranoid instruction tapes) is used it is super-un-ironic.  Purely for the love of texture we are coddled by a man from Preston.  Only because we want to hear if it’s possible the playground chants of knock-kneed children are julienned into thin flexible strips.

Fans of conclusion and climax can FFW to the title-mung ‘Gloria’ that seems to use Bell Laboratories Speech Synthesisers over a maelstrom of malfunctioning MP3 files as a cheap pick-up band.

Gee.Ell.Oh.Are.Eye.Ay it says in a variety of regionals as my wattle flutters with the pulsating shudder of collapsing data.  I’m a total sucker for the weaving of male and female throat-guff and hear (or here) the fibres all get twisted up into a Moroccan felt hat.  Stylish and practical.

The Thirteenth Century German Poet (and who can forget him) – presents super value for money with 18 short gas-pieces in all manner of styles and hues: gonzo-billy, bad fantasy art, vegetable starch punk,  Enya studio out-takes, Slow-Jimi and of course, how can I not mention – THE FINAL COUNTDOWN!  Students of beat science get few scraps from this table but even the beret-brigade get a goatee-tweak on ‘The Drowning Machine’.

Roll up, roll-up.  There’s something for everyone here.

But perhaps the catchiest ditty comes in the form of an internet meme (that’s the right term yeah?) coupled with distinctive sound of macaroni cheese being stirred in a pot (slurppyslurppy) on ‘Both of My Feet Hurt’.  This approach takes exactly one half measure of homespun wisdom and grafts on unapologetic mung.  But by now you’ve dug that one up yourself eh?

You got a short attention span?  Chief?  Attention span yeah?  Check this one out first.  I said, check this one.  Out.  Out first mate.  Yeah.  This one mate.


If you can only listen to one yeah?  Just one.  This is the one mate…


Butte County Free Music Society – Facebook

Butte County Free Music Society – Discogs

…also available in UK from Chocolate Monk


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  1. what generous attention you have lavished upon our humble barn of mutants. a grateful bleb thanks you. couple notes though about song titles. the one on “hard molt” you mention is actually called “the chert hold tightly.” and the correct title of the “rapture piles” track is “my mother wouldn’t let us use nicknames when we were kids.”

    • No problem raoul – our pleasure – I have updated the song titles mentioned as noted – we are nothing if not conscientious journalists here… With love, Rob H x

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