Album of the Summer of the Week: Brant Bjork, Jalamanta

When Man’s Ruin Records was getting ready to put out 1999’s Jalamanta, the first solo album from former Kyuss and Fu Manchu drummer Brant Bjork, they said in the album bio that it was “Psychedelic, soulful, organic, sexy…” and that “Man’s Ruin considers this one of their most interesting releases to date,” citing the likes of War as inspiration. Throughout the years and many subsequent solo offerings since, funk has always remained an essential part of Brant Bjork‘s work, and that ultra-grooving, ultra-warm low end is part of what makes Jalamanta a perfect summertime record, as well as the quintessential desert rock release.

The other part is the laid back vibe that Bjork constructs out of that low end. From the very start of “Lazy Bones” and “Automatic Fantastic,” Jalamanta bleeds cool. It’s a record that’s had untold influence on the current heavy rock scene — especially in Europe; one can hear shades of jams like “‘Let’s Get Chinese Eyes'” or “Defender of the Oleander” across a wide swath of bands — and its psychedelic elements only added mystique to the sun-baked atmosphere. Not to discount anything Kyuss did, but Jalamanta sounds even more purely of the desert, and if the song “Low Desert Punk” is anything to go by, Bjork knew exactly what he was doing and the sound he was embodying when he made it.

And while Brant Bjork would go on to become the godfather of desert rock and Jalamanta would in large part define the course of his career as a solo songwriter — a career that seemed to be sidetracked following a label deal with Napalm Records last year by the emergence of Kyuss Lives!, whose fate remains uncertain pending litigation — the album’s appeal isn’t necessarily limited to its geography. Sure, it’s low desert punk, but for example, right now it’s so humid outside my office that if you moved your arms the right way you could do a breast stroke through the air, and Jalamanta proves a perfect fit for Jersey’s perma-haze as well.

The album was reissued on Bjork‘s own Duna Records in 2003 (minus the Mario Lalli-fronted “Toot”) and again by his next label incarnation, Low Desert Punk (with that track restored and a bonus Blue Öyster Cult cover) on vinyl in 2009, and the original is out there on the secondary market, so Jalamanta is around, but if like me you’re too paralyzed by the heat to move and check it out, here’s “Too Many Chiefs… Not Enough Indians” courtesy of the YouTubes:

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6 Responses to “Album of the Summer of the Week: Brant Bjork, Jalamanta”

  1. robbie lacombe says:

    gonna have to buy this album. thanks for letting me know of it’s exsisitence.

  2. Jordi says:

    I’d say Jalamanta is “Birth Of The Cool” for the modern rock scene.
    Looking forward to your Advaitic Songs review (coming soon, doesn’t it?)… Cheers!

  3. Jordi says:

    Bummer! Nevertheless, your blog continues to be the No. 1 information source for us doomed stoners! Or is it stoned doomers?

  4. darryl says:

    Love this album. A masterpiece from start to finish. There’s a cool little documentary on Youtube about the making of it, worth checking out.

  5. dafe says:

    MANDATORY ALBUM!!!! 100% … Got the Man’s Ruin and LDP re-release…. the Magnum opus for sure (besides his kyuss work) and the coolest dude iv ever met!

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