Mind Brains at Athens Banner-Herald

There are certain truisms when it comes to Athens music.

One constant is the unusual nature of anything released from those within the Elephant 6 collective. It will be weird, experimental, ranging and often “out-there,” but in a way that is neither unfocused or boring.

The latest creation to join this formidable list of musical acts is Mind Brains, a fivesome which includes members of E6 stalwarts Circulatory System, of Montreal, M. Coast and The Music Tapes.

The band’s self-titled debut dropped on Orange Twin records last week, and Saturday night the band launches its live act at Flicker Theatre and Bar.

What gives the band an odd bent, aside from the spacey, melodic yet somewhat folksy music, is the instruments it uses to make it.

Cobbling together forgotten, out-of-date electronics, Mind Brains employs toy drum machines and fixed-up Casio SK-1’s (those 32-key synths from the 1980s which pumped out cheesy songs when pushing the demo button) to create songs eliciting the minimalist improvisation of Krautrock.

The album’s opening track, “Happy Stomp,” bears this out. Beginning with a clipped chorus of voices, it unfolds into an undercurrent of extended tempos of strings, synths and singing. It’s part Neu!, part A Sunny Day in Glasgow. “Whistle Tips” and “Body Horror” pick up the pace, fashioning more beats, but keeping a stream of voices below the surface.

Andy Gonzales, a Mind Brains member and the main force behind M. Coast, has made this kind of music for years now. His 2009 album Phreak Phantasy showcased elements of what the Mind Brains have recently released.

“I’ve been inspired by ‘80s production and drum machines,” Gonzales told me a few years back. “I’m trying to approach the kind of modern music style like what I think electronica is. I don’t listen to that kind of music, but I want to use those tools and create my own version.”

John Fernandes, who plays with several E6 bands as well, teams up with Alec Livaditis to open the show. Tickets are $5.

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