Jackie O Motherfucker - Ballads of the Revolution
Michael James Hall 07/05/2009
1994: From the darkest depths (presumably) of Portland Oregon emerged a band of bewildering strangeness that, over the next fifteen years would release sometimes impenetrable, though often compelling records accompanied by a multitude of line-up changes and semi-legendary, semi-improvised live shows.
In 2009 Jackie O are firmly entrenched as the underground band's underground band and on this, their tenth studio album, they go some way to proving the validity of their status.
Simply put, this not an easy record. Even more simply put, this is a hard record. From the funereal drums and hoarse, cracked vocals of opener 'Nightingale', through the improv-insanity of 'Skylight' with it's Royal Trux DIY riffola, all the way to the fragile, Miracle Legion style balladry of closer 'A Mania', Jackie O make it plain that they are implementing a jazz approach to experimental rock and really don't care who knows it;
Never clichéd - as so much post-rock can be - and always retaining an almost childlike integrity, the band hypnotise with trance-inducing dronepop in the style of Spiritualized, sometimes nodding to Brian Jonestown Massacre with a full-on guitar wig out, sometimes reducing their sound to an acid tinged brand of beat poetry as on 'The Corner'.
Whichever angle they attack from, the music succeeds on it's own terms - abrasive, bleak and repetitive, yes, but also unashamed, unadorned and entirely undiluted.
The highlight of this approach comes with 'The Cryin' Sea', an effortlessly epic squall of guitar that builds into a vast, arcing bridge of a song: it's exhilarating.
A tough little record, no doubt, but one guaranteed to surrender further fruits on repeated listens and a definite reward for those willing to take a chance on something a million light years away from the mainstream.