Brain Pilot ‎– Cerebral Navigators: Anthology 1993-1997 (Kalahari Oyster Cult, 2019)

Mind bending electronics just found new heights – in the past. A pearl of a compilation from one of the best labels going.

There are a choice few labels out there who are really traversing in the realms of electronic possibilities. Releasing music that really delves into the inner core of dance music’s heart and soul, its essence as a collection of genres that can create moments of unfounded genius, crafted by tones, textures and transitions. Kalahari Oyster Cult are definitely one of those labels that currently are creating very special dance music indeed. Each release is celebrated in its own right, but the core foundations remain the same – quality, diversity, sound and expressionism. Each new release and reissue shares such thoughtful exploration of dance music boundless possibilities, each bar and note a careful and tenderly selected moment, so that we the listeners get maximum listening pleasure every single damn time. Some select releases include Roza Terenzi’s ‘Mwah EP’, Urulu’s superb ‘Foreign Depths’ EP, along with cracking releases this year from Liluzu and Flora FM. Much of their contemporary releases follows in the vein of what was described before, but the label also has an excellent ear for some of the past’s most excellent releases. These include Jacy’s ‘Somewhere in the Tapes’ EP, and the incredible Raymond Castoldi compilation from 2017. Both these reissues delve into the deep side of house, but its on that side of musically interesting rather than following the formula. It just highlights the labels heads for releasing brilliant music, and being open minded to the nature of their releases.

So now we arrive at their most recent release, Brain Pilot’s ‘Cerebral Navigators: Anthology 1993​-​1997’. Brain Pilot operated out of Belgium during the 1990s, and inspired by the sounds of Techno, IDM and their own scene, they released a series of records under various aliases, another of which was as Trans-4M, of which the Safe Trip reissue of their genius record ‘Sublunar Oracles’ appeared on this websites best of list from 2019. As Brain Pilot, they released 3 records during this time, of which this comp brings together select cuts from each, alongside some never released on vinyl before. If Trans-4M delved right into the dub techno side of things, then this compilation really delves into the other side of everything from across the spectrum of worldwide techno and IDM. At times brilliantly contrasting, at moments tender and deep, with scenes that transcend and blend so beautifully you forget where you are, for a split second. Each track displays obscene amounts of personality, where the duo really take a dip into the essence of what made the 90s such a powerful moment in time for dance music. The music contained here still sounds so relevant, so pure and fresh, as if it was trying to write the blueprint for the future. Just maybe…..lets take a dip.

Up first we have ‘C.N.S’, which properly introduces us to their world. Deep techno style pads abound, swelling and receding, but always full to the brim. Little cymbals come into play, along with light kick drums, as the progression moves to introduce a little key line along with some swinging drums. These move forward, as the beat takes it all forward. Its a brilliant series of introductions, the transitions seamless, and this track in full flight is a site to behold. Sheer unadulterated brilliance, it moves its way through celestial moments, through the skies, towards unknown far away places. The short breaks provide these moments to open our eyes, to take it all in, the pads left out for a brief time. We eagerly await their return, and when they do come back its simply glorious. Up next comes ‘B.W.E’, that is introduced with more urgency in mind. An arpeggio synth leads the way, as the drums create a beating heart, as the track moves forth into its next phase. Deep diving synths replaced the lead, as the drums move up a notch in intensity. The scene is set for movement on the dance floor, as the break introduces another variation. The arpeggio moves down in pitch, as the drums bring it all back again, cymbals abounded. We are just pure locked into this, and what follows is further drum work outs. If you want variety and intensity, this is the track for you. Next comes ‘E.E.G’, that opens up like flowers in the morning sun. Emotive keys take charge, light and airy, as further lines are added in for added serenity. The bottom chord creates the rhythm, as this continues forward, before proper nice drums come dancing in. It sets up this incredible dynamism, between the inter laced keys, and this rather intense drum work out. The keys fall away for a moment, allowing the drums to do their thing, as the scenes move between emotion and pulsating energies. Its a compelling listen, and one that will surely do the work on all the floors out there.

Up next comes ‘Feel Real Good’. The little arpeggios gently move around the earlobes, as little computer sounds remind us of the machines input into this. Deep hues of synths come into play, setting up the riddim very nicely. You can feel whats coming, thats the brilliance of these guys music. Their intros are always so on point, they make you feel such excitement in their setups. Considered, deep and full of texture, we await its goodness. Then, the drums hit, hitting very very hard indeed, moving around the chords in the middle. The keys fit within the box very well indeed, as the tempo kicks up a notch big time. The perimeters in which this song operate is unreal, the boundaries set very far away, so that each element can sing as loudly as possible. The pulse in this song is electric, giving us mega feels. The progressions brilliant, once again. Next comes ‘Nutrient’, and oh yeah here we go again. This is some serious chord work, full of colour and richness, as the hues take on another form. The hi hats in the background give the tune a real sense of urgency, moving the tune forward into realms of unknown possibilities. The drum kicks signify the beginning of something special, as some of the layers move away to really get to the core of the drumming. Its bold, its engineered to fuck, everything just fits within its space so elegantly. As the bass lines come back in, its something to really get immersed in. A world that knows no bounds. Sheer bliss. ‘Serotonin Flow’ comes next, and its yet another intro from above. The tune moves into this very futurism sort of vibe, where metallic sounds are melded and blended into this hypnotic scene filled with actions and reactions. A series of notions and motions, the synths working underground with all the rhythmic elements charged with injecting life and purpose into this most sporadically brilliant of tracks. Next comes ‘Brainsine’, that begins with some ominous sounding sounds (haha). A introduction of a fuzzy as fuck synth line just adds to the eeriness, as if the machines are really taking over now. The drumming patterns once again are top notch, providing a brilliant sense of contrast to the blended sequences happening on top. At times this presents a challenging yet refreshing listen, as the track moves away from helping you to feel and moving into the realms of how do you feel about all of this? A landscape filled with dim lights and shady street corners, a future where metal and concrete combine to conjure up images of who knows what.

‘Shifting’ follows next, and we move back towards some comforting pads. A series of fast paced pads counteract alongside swelling chords, as the drums once again add that little bit extra on top. The track then moves into this proper intense work out, its pulse just riding up very high, so very high. Sheer elevations for sure. Next comes ‘Circuits (Live)’. This one begins on another widescreen note, where sounds move from left to right, on top of slow but steady synths, that remind you to retain some form of focus. Then out of absolutely fucking nowhere, comes this obscene beat pattern, like really. That one was not expected, as minimal notes and chords lie on top of this unholy beat, one that was plucked from the notions of just dancing your arse off in a sweaty warehouse. It has that proper 90s drum and bass level of energy to it, but with hardcore and second wave techno thrown in. Its a joyful thrill ride, and it will be the kind of beat that will remain with you for years to come. ‘Wet-Wired (First Wiring)’ comes next, that begins with some little keys moving around a slowed down beat. Complete with computer generated noises, it sets us up once more for something special. It continues on in this same vein, moving through the notions on its journey towards sonic perfection. More pads and synths are added in, to just continue to add to the mystique and intrigue. But yet it switches up, moving into a deeper level of drum work, the kick drums given so much more weight to them as they groove through the night and into another movements and feeels. Great shit. ‘Substantia Electronica’ comes next, and is another sonic exploration of subterranean values. The drums start up, as the keys do their work to wrap around our minds, as the bass lines and dirty kicks come into play. The track gets extra dimensions added to it, new layers and sights and sounds, as pads move in from the back. Little lines abound here and there, as scenes move and sway back and forth, just continuing to add to the intrigue. ‘Disconnect’ comes next, and we move back into the realms of the future. Proper techno key lines come into play, as soft pads from up above move around on top. Then a beautiful little drum line comes in, adding weight and body to the tune. At times powerfully compulsive, at moments soft and tender, this is perhaps the message of this record. We receive both so readily, we are blessed that these moments happen in pretty much every track on the record. To finish up the record we have ‘Implant’, and we begin with some nice IDM key work. It descends into continued explorations of emotive chords, with a slowed down yet weirdly energetic drum pattern, as chiming chords resonate deep within us. Its a beautiful track, a fitting end to an compilation that shines a light on the sheer genius and unparalleled exploration that this duo have.

What an experience. The Van Elsen brothers really do know their thing when it comes to making music that is simply spellbinding in its ambition, its boldness in the evolution of tracks, and the brilliance of its moments of reflection compared with its moments of surprising revelations. What we are left with here is a collection of songs that remain as relevant today as they were the day they were released, tracks that continue to inspire long into the future. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

Support the troops:

https://kalaharioystercult.bandcamp.com/album/brain-pilot-cerebral-navigators-anthology-1993-1997

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