What are the trippiest albums

Culture - The musical mystic Joel Vandroogenbroeck is dead

The musical mystic Joel Vandroogenbroeck is dead

The multi-instrumentalist was looking for an experiment, be it in jazz or rock. Now the founder of the cult band Brainticket has died at the age of 81.

When the “Swinging Sixties” were replaced by the “Sophisticated Seventies”, he made an important contribution from Switzerland: Joel Vandroogenbroeck. Pianist, organist, flautist, double bass player, sitar player. Brainticket was the name of the band he founded in Basel, and with them the Belgian-born hit the nerve of the psychedelic era in 1971: musicians played on it in a trance, a swirling Hammond organ met psychedelic voices, driven by a jungle groove.

"Cottonwoodhill", Brainticket's debut album, caused a stir internationally. Not least because of the clever marketing, the record company warned of the dangerous LSD sound on the cover: “Only listen once a day to this disc. Your brain may be destroyed ». The fact that the album was initially banned in the USA contributed to the cult, as did the haunting cover and content. Even decades later, “Cottonwoodhill” was one of the “trippiest records ever produced” in the music lexicon “All Music Guide”.

Joel Vandroogenbroeck did not benefit from economic success. “Unfortunately,” as he noted, the album is said to have sold a million copies over the decades. Whenever he contacted the record company about royalties, he was dismissed. "We were literally ripped off," he said. This is one of the reasons why Brainticket's debut marked only a short episode in an eventful musician's life for himself. He gave his first concert as a child, in front of Allied soldiers. He later studied classical piano, but was kicked out of the Brussels Conservatory for daring to play jazz. At 15 his talented game was awarded the Art Tatum Prize, at 17 he went on a European tour for the first time and flew to concerts in the Congo. "Contact with blacks was forbidden at the time," he recalled. "We didn't stick to it and went out on the first evening." What he experienced was magical and inspired him to write «Black Sand», Brainticket's most popular piece.

As a session musician, he later worked for Ennio Morricone and the RAI Orchestra, among others. In Switzerland he first worked for several months at the Atlantis in Basel at the beginning of the 1960s. As a result, he settled here and discovered the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and King Crimson. “The traditional jazz musicians didn't appreciate that I became a rock musician,” he said. But it was not the style limits that attracted him, but their dissolution. «My music was not understood by everyone», he knew and could live with it. For him it was about the encounters, about new sounds. Sometimes he cooperated with inventors like Bruno Spoerri, he traveled to Bali or Egypt to study, sometimes just in his head as a “psychonaut”. The musician as a mystic. He reactivated his band Brainticket when he was already over 70, including for concerts in the USA. By then he had already moved the center of his life to Mexico, where he was more comfortable with the climate.

Joel Vandroogenbroeck died shortly before Christmas at the age of 81.