Psychonaut Review


Brainticket often gets classified as Krautrock, and while their music is squarely in that genre, their national origin is a bit obscure. Band leader Joël Vandroogenbroeck was apparently Belgian born, and residing in Switzerland. They included Swiss, Italian, and even American musicians in their lineup. But they did record for a short time for a fairly well known German progressive label Bellaphon, and the fact many of their albums were released in that country.

Psychonaut, released in 1972 is one of my favorites from this band. A few detractors label it as a poor man’s Amon Düül II, which I think is a bit unfair, as this is a totally great album. Brainticket hardly ever repeated themselves (except for a couple of their later, all- instrumental outings, Adventure and Voyage) so their previous album, Cottonwoodhill (1971) and their following effort Celestial Ocean (1973) sounds nothing like Psychonaut. Psychonaut is by far their most melodic of their albums and you get some killer songs.

“Radagacuca” starts off with some great spacy Hammond organ, before you get some great percussion. Sitar and acoustic guitar kicks in with vocals that goes, “He always brings you a chewing gum with a silver aeroplane on it”. Eventually the song really rocks with some great Hammond organ.

The next cut, “One Morning” is an excellent psych piece with piano and the sound of thunder and strange percussion. It’s basically the same piano riff played over and over, with vocals sung over it, and the results is another great song from them.

“Watchin’ You”, this time with a female vocalist (Jane Free), is a very rocking piece, and I was so utterly shocked hearing this song, given the other Brainticket albums I heard was much more experimental and electronic. Strange use of modified sounds are used as well, at the end of the song, it slows down with sitar kicking in.

“Like a Place in the Sun” consisted of a heavy sounding Hammond organ and spoken dialog from Carol Muriel (who’d became an actual member of Brainticket on their following effort, Celestial Ocean). Parts of the song reminds me of the Dutch prog rock band Earth & Fire, even vocals that remind me of Jerney Kaagman, E&F’s vocalist. It was likely this song that made people think Brainticket was Dutch, even if they weren’t.

“Feel the Wind Blow” is a rather laid back acoustic piece with pleasant female vocals, and electric guitar that sounded like something George Harrison would’ve done. The last song, “Coc’o Mary” is an all instrumental effort and is the easiest song to describe as it sounds exactly like a cross between Santana and Jethro Tull. Psychonaut is another great album, and if you’re looking for more obscure gems to add to your collection, get this album!