I would normally find myself reaching for such stock phrases as “genre-hopping,” or the ever meaningless “post-genre world” when faced with such wandering music, but the massed ranks of The Brainiac 5 have never had much truck with musical demarcations, so I would hate to imply that they are following such a zeitgeist when they have long been the pied pipers of such an approach. And this time around even that loose and wandering approach has been pushed even further.
After the recording sessions for their previous album We’re Ready, as the sonic cloth was being cut to make the finished album, the band realised that they had a wonderfully hypnotic loop that hadn’t made the final cut and which they thought warranted a second chance at life. To this end they sent the recording out to various friends and past collaborators who they urged to rework in whichever way they felt compelled. And so was born the platform for a four-part title track, easily as musically disparate and diverse as any of the two most extreme tracks in their back catalogue to date. This in turn fired up the band’s own inspirations driving Back to Shore to become their most mercurial, wide-ranging and brilliantly eclectic album so far. And that is saying something.
The individual musical suburbs of the title track take in Talking Head like afro-grooves, noise guitar, funky-prog-blues, shimmering arabesque jazz and sultry cinematic soundtracking. Most people would be happy to stop there but for a band with such a limitless musical view they then went on to include the Celtic instrumental dirge of Energy, the chiming post-punk-pop of What We Can and even buzz-saw bop of Breaking Up.
In most people’s hands such a strange blend of extremes would seem unfocused, in the hands of the maniac Brainiacs such wide-ranging musical madness seems the most natural thing in the world.