Ché, Sounds of Liberation (2000)
By 2000, Brant Bjork was half-a-decade out of Kyuss. In 1997, he’d released his first album as the drummer for Fu Manchu, The Action is Go (he’d also produced their 1994 debut, No One Rides for Free), and in 1999, he released his own solo debut in the form of the landmark Jalamanta, bringing his funked-out, soulful desert rock songwriting front and center with laid back tones and nodding cool that dripped from the platter front to back. When Ché issued 2000’s Sounds of Liberation, Bjork was still with Fu Manchu — his final album with them would be California Crossing in 2001 — and it’s clear part of the drive was to be a bandleader in his own right. Having drummed in Kyuss and Fu Manchu and performed everything on his solo record, Ché was an outfit that could get out on stage and perform in a traditional band sense, and that seemed to be the idea behind it.
Bringing together Bjork in guitar and vocals, a post-Queens of the Stone Age (also ex-Kyuss) Alfredo Hernandez on drums and Unida‘s Dave Dinsmore on bass, Ché was an exciting if short-lived prospect. Man’s Ruin, which also put out Jalamanta the year before, issued Sounds of Liberation, and even 15 years later it sounds like an album with considerable promise. In light of what Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band — which also includes Dinsmore — were able to accomplish with 2014’s Black Power Flower (review here), Sounds of Liberation seems like a precursor to a similar kind of expression, Bjork‘s songwriting, tone and voice very much at the fore, but well complemented in a fashion that, at least going by the sound of it, seemed sustainable and tour-ready. That didn’t turn out to be the case, but with tracks like the jamming “Pray for Rock” and ultra-swinging “Blue Demon,” Sounds of Liberation stands the test of time. It didn’t prove to be the kind of rock and roll freedom Bjork was looking for, and the album has become kind of a footnote in the history of desert rock, but there’s nothing about the results that didn’t work.
Sounds of Liberation was reissued in 2008 by Bjork‘s Low Desert Punk Recordings and there are still copies around for those who’d find them. Hope you enjoy.
Still in Jersey. Going to Brooklyn in a little bit to see Conan, then up to Connecticut immediately thereafter. Plan is to drive back to Massachusetts during the day tomorrow, then up to New Hampshire to see Gozu. Reviews of both of those and the new The Machine album at some point next week, but I start work on Tuesday, so I honestly can’t say when or what that’s going to look like.
I’m a little nervous to start work again, but I think it will be good. I’ll have my own office and a little space to figure things out, so that’s good, and you know I’m going to do as much Obelisk stuff as I’m able all the while, whatever it costs me in mental stability or hours of sleep. If I could make a living doing this site, I would. Nobody’s cut me that check yet, so off to work I go. I’m happy to have a job.
Monday is Memorial Day, and I might review the Conan show, but there probably won’t be much more going on than that — four bands on the bill, so I’m sure that will be plenty — and Tuesday, since it’s my first day at the new office, I’ll have a podcast up and maybe a news story or something but that’s probably it. I said the same thing last week, but I ask you to please bear with me while I get settled. It might take a little time.
I hope you have a great and safe weekend. If you’re in the States, enjoy the extra day off. Be safe and thanks for reading. Please check out the forum and radio stream.