Brainticket is the brainchild of Joel Vandroogenbroeck, a Belgian based in Switzerland who grew up studying classical piano before switching to jazz. He received the Art Tatum prize as “youngest jazz pianist” at the tender age of fifteen, and was soon touring around Europe and Africa. By 1967, Joel was still playing jazz but he found new inspiration in the sounds emanating from German krautrock artists Amon Duul II, Can and Tangerine Dream.
Under the influence of these groups, Joel and guitarist Ron Byer recruited drummer Wolfgang Paap and formed the trio that would become Brainticket. The group’s 1971 debut album Cottonwoodhill immediately ran into a storm of controversy for its association with psychedelic drugs. The album came with a warning label that insisted you should “only listen once a day to this record. Your brain might be destroyed,” which led to the album being banned in several countries including the USA.
From then on, Brainticket’s reputation as a band of experimentalists at the forefront of underground, avant-garde music had been solidified. Following the death of Bryer, Joel began exploring electronic sounds, moved to Italy and met an American woman named Carole Muriel. A pair of Swiss musicians, guitarist Rolf Hug and bassist Martin Sacher, followed and the group released 1972’s Psychonaut. A rock opera collaboration with Academy Award winning film composer Bill Conti (“Rocky”) followed before Joel began work on a new Brainticket album based on the Egyptian Book of the Dead. The new album, Celestial Ocean, told the after-life experience of Egyptian kings traveling through space and time, from the desert land to the pyramids. Released in 1973, the album was hailed as the definitive Brainticket experience and earned the band their greatest acclaim.
Joel has continued to explore new creative avenues over the decades, releasing two more albums under the Brainticket moniker, including 2000’s Alchemic Universe. Recently, he teamed with Cleopatra Records to release the first ever Brainticket box set, The Vintage Anthology 1971-1980, a 4-disc compilation containing the complete first three albums along with several rare recordings. The box set is a celebration of Brainticket’s enormous contributions to electronic and ambient music that would provide inspiration for progressive bands from Emerson Lake & Palmer to Yes as well as modern acts such as Radiohead.