April 2007

Chris Bottomley and Brainfudge
April 12, 2007 e-bar Guelph
Crispy Bottoms' Fudge
by Laila Boulos with photos by Roger Humbert
From the time Chris Bottomley and his Brainfudge cohorts blasted onto the stage at Guelph's e-bar until they leapt off, they maintained a level of playing akin to the grand finale performance in an international fireworks competition. As with fireworks, there is so much happening on the stage when this group performs that one is not sure where the next explosion is going to take place.

Opening the evening with a reggae-influenced piece entitled “Belize City Bakin'”, the group instantly shot the temperature of the room into the stratosphere with their command of the stage and of their instruments. One could almost feel the crowd jumping backwards at least a foot and a half (we were tempted to measure!) from the sheer force of the band's energy.

Looking at the lineup of musicians involved in this project, one would rightfully expect a performance worthy of an awe-inspiring fireworks competition. Brainfudge is composed of: Great Bob Scott (ex. Tulpa) on drums; Crispy (Chris Bottomley) Bottoms (ex. Tulpa) on bass, vocals and djembe; James Gray (ex. Blue Rodeo) on keys and vocals; Donné Roberts (of African Guitar Summit & leader of his own band) on guitar; Richard Underhill (ex. Shuffle Demons and current Jazz Meister) on alto saxophone and Johnny Mac (of Mr. Something Something) on tenor saxophone.

Throughout the evening, Brainfudge guided their audience on a wild musical odyssey through caves of funky soul, rivers of Latin jazz and valleys of reggae, leaving them breathless and expectant for the next earful of surprises.

The soulful sounds of “We Can Be Better”, played up the heavy, heady Hammond B3-inspired techniques reminiscent of some of the brilliant soul and R&B bands of the '70s.

Yet another twist on the musical journey came with the number entitled “Chillin'”, which opened with a haunting trip via saxophone evoking Supertramp's "School" and ending with intoxicating, heady guitar licks.

Chris Bottomley
This group of stellar musicians should be the poster children for live performances as simply observing them musically banter and play off each other was almost worth the price of admission. It was also refreshing to watch them clowning around for the various photographers in the room.

Later in the evening, surprising the audience yet again, Brainfudge played “World of Dreams”, a breezy Latin-jazz number that once again showcased their versatility and adventurousness.

Although a number of the band-members have been jamming together for a while, rather than becoming bored and complacent in their playing, they effortlessly manage to maintain a level of creativity and freshness. This level of artistry is apparent with their use of effects. For instance, Richard was using effects such as dub, echo and reverb, encouraging Johnny to play through his microphone to produce the same qualities. Upping the musical ante, Chris created echo and distortion to texturize the sounds of his bass. Not to be outdone, Bob added spacey techniques and trippy, heady sonics to intensify the sounds available from his drum kit.

Although most of the band's set consisted of originals, they gave nods to fellow musicians with two covers. The first was the Meters’ “Time” and their final song was Sly and Robbie’s “Get to This, Get to That”. As with their own pieces, these were played with stellar precision and with just the right amount of Brainfudge spicing.

As the evening came much too quickly to an end, one wondered how the name Brainfudge came about. A look in Webster's dictionary gives a number of descriptions: to devise a substitute; foolish nonsense, among others. After seeing Chris Bottomley and Brainfudge perform, they definitely do not substitute or fake anything. As for foolish nonsense, the band is definitely having a great time on stage and guessing at their sense of humour, this is probably what they thought of when choosing the name. But, in conclusion, we are going with our own interpretation. The 'fudge' that this band produces elicits a pure, high quality, high-octane sugar rush that lasts for hours! Watch out for Chris Bottomley and Brainfudge's ear and hip candy coming to a dance floor near you.

Donné Roberts

Top left
Richard Underhill
John MacLean
James Gray

Bottom left
Great Bob Scott

> www.chrisbottomley.com > www.myspace.com/chrisbottomley
We welcome your comments and feedback
Laila Boulos
• • • • • •
Roger Humbert
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