Finally! For a dude who’s writing a psych blog, I haven’t really, you know, written a whole lot about, well, psych. No more! Time for some out-and-out jams, you know, stuff with debauched electric sex all up in it. Here’s Jungle Rot, a 1975 album by Baltimore shreducator George Brigman. (Like that? Shreducator? I just made that shit up.)
Brigman’s an outsider, and he compares favorably to other lonesome wanderers of first-wave psychedelia like Skip Spence. Unlike Spence (or Syd Barrett, to whom Spence is most often compared), however, Brigman never had a previously successful outing as a recording artist. (Also unlike those two, there is no documented history of mental illness or debilitating drug abuse, just the creation of music out-of-sync with its milieu.) There was no Moby Grape or Pink Floyd for Brigman before Jungle Rot. This was his debut, and it’s savage, debauched, and remarkably assured.
Briefly: the reason this album is considered a sort of lost artifact is twofold. First, Brigman recorded it and then more or less quit recording for decades after the untimely death of his bassist. Jungle Rot was released and then vanished. Second, the music on here really is pretty unique, especially in 1975. It takes proto-punk’s muscular snarl and applies that aesthetic to psych-blues.
The title track, which opens the album, absolutely kills, with Brigman throwing down some panning, spiky, metallic chord stabs for a bit before launching into a flat-out destructive (and fucking anthemic) riff. It sets the tone for the rest of Jungle Rot, which is essentially extremely well-executed bluesy psych jams. This isn’t one of those crate-digging disappointments that has one scorcher and two or three middling jams among a largely faceless bunch of trash. Every song on here kicks ass, with Brigman turning again and again to the deepest, druggiest strain of psychedelic revelry.
It also doesn’t hurt that Brigman is an absolutely blistering guitar player firmly in the acid rock mold. And though he’s fleet of finger, his technical prowess never gets in the way of the mood of Jungle Rot, which is always drunkenly aggressive in a way that threatens (but never quite devolves into) sloppiness.
Even when he takes a break from shredding with aplomb and slows down, as he does on the sweet-sounding ballad “Schoolgirl” (naturally about sex), Brigman’s m.o. of keeping the mood good and confused shines through. (Writing about this album really makes you run out of synonyms for “druggy” and its variants.)
I used to think Spacemen 3‘s brand of drug-addled, minimalist psych was, for all its simplicity, essentially unprecedented. Not so. George Brigman proves that there is nothing new under the sun. And while I’m inclined to doubt that Sonic Boom and Jason Pierce were aware of Jungle Rot before they released The Sound of Confusion, simply because it’s a pretty underground record (and this is before, y’know, the age of the internet, this time when everything is available to everyone again), there was at least a sonic precedent indirectly pointing toward that band’s strung-out riffage.