“What the fuck did I just listen to?” This is what I said to myself the first time I hit play on Brain Wizard’s Brain Wizard’s Most Hella Dopest (released April 23rd, 2018 on Green Monkey Records). I repeated the sentiment on the second listen. And the third. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it; I might not be able to and I’m sure that’s just what Brain Wizard intended.
Okay, let’s get the particulars out of the way first. Brain Wizard is the project of Kurt Elzner (formerly of Mazzy Star, The Purdins and several other acts) and bassist Zach Lansdowne who played with Elzner in The Purdins. Elzner operates out of Olympia, Washington where he also runs the record label Green Monkey Records.
Now to the serious business, what is Brain Wizard? Where did it come from? What are its intentions? Here’s what I’ve gathered. Brain Wizard appeared “out of the mist of a disorderly bedroom apartment in Hollywood.” He divulged his “EPIC COSMOLOGICAL PLAN” to a select group of “Chosen Disciples” who now make up the band Brain Wizard. Although a mortal being, who is not a chosen disciple cannot comprehend the true plan of the Brain Wizard, nor even see the Brain Wizard for that matter, we can listen to these eleven songs that make up Brain Wizard’s Most Hella Dopest and gain some slight understanding as to what this plan is.
The music is a far-reaching pastiche of otherworldy alt-rock, funky electronic. The drums loom large, so loud in the mix you’re almost offended, but in a positive way if that’s possible; they strike you right in the gut on opening track “Life Is Fun” much in the way the Flaming Lips famously did on “Race For The Prize,” opening track off of their masterpiece The Soft Bulletin. Many of the tracks on Brain Wizard’s Most Hella Dopest are collages of digitalized grooves, distorted guitars and clever, poetic, tongue-in-cheek vocals, “If you want to live on this place we call earth, then you’ve got to eat food” from “Food No. 9. (Slight Return).”He seems like a real genius this Brain Wizard. “Lazy Superman” is an earworm that will fester in your brain until it is rot and pilfered for all of its usefulness. Elzner constructs songs with the carefree attitude of a five-year-old who has been handed some old magazines, a pair of scissors and a bottle of glue; the results of which I would proudly display on my fridge. The closest comparable in an audio frame I can give you is Beck’s Mellow Gold, to which I will reference Stephen Thomas Erlewine’s review on allmusic.com, “From its kaleidoscope array of junk-culture musical styles to its assured, surrealistic wordplay, Beck’s debut album, Mellow Gold, is a stunner.” Swap in Brain Wizard’s Most Hella Dopest for Mellow Gold. I could not have said it better myself.
Brain Wizard’s Most Hella Dopest is a most satisfying listen…required listening. An intergalactic, freaked-out, trippy adventure with life lessons advising kids to not make nuclear bombs “Kids Don’t Try This At Home,” love songs that reference kissing bugs “Bugzahlick” and some clues about the Brain Wizard and what he truly wants “The 3rd Most Epic Legend of Brain Wizard.” Leave your sanity behind when you hit play on this one, you won’t require it.
Written by Lee Ferguson
*edited by Danielle Kenedy