Jackie-O Motherfucker "Fig. 5"
This Portland, Oregon collective has been mesmerizing audiences for over a decade with their wildly eclectic combination of free jazz, space rock, and fucked folk and the label born out of the famous international music festivals in the UK has recently reissued their first two CD releases, originally available on Road Cone in 2000-1. The first of these begins in Dr. Frankenstein?s lab with bubbling, humming, and buzzing from the electric factory known as ?Analogue Skillet.? ?Native Einstein? actually does recall the sounds of invention: John Flaming?s coughing sax, sawing wood, the heavy panting of violins and miscellaneous clanging from that metal shop out back. ?Your Cells Are In Motion? begins to take shape as an actual song, building on a soft, repetitive, three-note guitar riff that justifies the band?s occasional comparisons to the majestic symphonic post rock of Godspeed! You Black Emperor (with whom they?ve toured) and Magwai.
The revival-tent gospel singalong ?Go Down, Old Hannah? follows, if for no apparent reason other than to demonstrate their myriad influences and ensure the listener doesn?t become too complacent and expect any single style of music. The whole thing ends with a minute of Jef Brown?s cacophonous free jazz sax skronking that simultaneously ensures both an exciting ?what will they do next? and a frustrating ?what the hell is this doing in here? listening experience. A banjo, pots, pans, wooden block and various percussives-rendition of ?Amazing Grace? again demands the listener?s full attention: when is this nebulous, hesitant, extended free-form introduction finally going to morph into a song? Before long, you will realise that this nebulous, hesitant, extended free-form introduction IS the song. Oh, there?s a perfunctory run through the basic melody about ? of the way through its alloted 11 minutes, but that, of course, is not the point. Jackie-O is all about foreplay and the bits between the bits ? what happens around a song?s rudimentary melody is infinitely more exciting, challenging and ultimately more rewarding in its execution than a simple, linear tune. It?s obvious these Motherfuckers worship at the altar of Captain Beefheart and they have served their master well.
JOMF?s modus operandi seems to revolve around Tom Greenwood, Brooke Crouser, John Flaming, and Jef Brown sitting down and composing a song with a basic structure or melodic narrative and then inviting the rest of the musicians (here that includes Patrick Alvarez, Brian Foote, Barry Hampton and Honey Owens) into the studio to wrap a free-form improv jam around the song?s core melody lines. Then they record the results and head off to the editing room to toss out the melody, structure and narrative and then call it a day by releasing the ?extraneous stuff.?
Having said all that, the MOFOs then pull their typical 180˚ aboutface and give us ?Beautiful September (We Are Going There?), a sexy, bluesy swamp dance riding Greenwood?s John Fogerty-inspired swampadelica guitar lines and sultry drooler, Brooke Crouser?s sleepy purring not at all unlike Cowboy Junkie, Margo Timmons. The 24?-minute centerpiece ?Michigan Avenue Social Club? is an awe-inspiring treat for free-jazz aficionados, although the weak of heart and delicate of mind who prefer more straightforward compositions will more than likely bail out early on. If you so decide, you?ll miss a barnstormin?, freeformin?, no-holds-barred backwoods hoedown full of tablas, marraccas, chanting, moaning, honking sax blasts, asymmetrical shards of white guitar noise, and the occasional electronics that sound like our participants are tuning shortwave radios ? in short, the most mindfucked hukilau you?re likely to hear in a long time that ultimately makes the stoned hippies in Ya Ho Wa 13 sound like Montivani. A challenging listen that is not the best place to start exploring these wingnuts. For that, you might want to check out our review of ATPs other reissue, ?Liberation.? 6/10 -- Jeff Penczak (15 August, 2005)