Jackie-O Motherfucker – Fig. 5

3 out of 5

Labels: Road Cone

Produced by: Jackie-O Motherfucker

I guess we’ll file this under the general “I just don’t hear it,” header.

Not Jackie-O – thems I hear and get, but the version of the band (being a collective, after all) that produced Fig. 5 – a genius album by all accounts, with many a review highlighting their dissembly of Amazing Grace – well, that’s what my ears aren’t quite adjusted to.

Which is an interesting journey for my ears, as Fig. 5 was one of my introductions into this type of music and I recall it being a much noisier affair… suggesting that my tastes have, indeed, evolved, in the same way musicality emerges from hardcore, or nuance from classical, or production quality from techno beats once you’re adjusted to the style, and post years of listening to VHF noise explosions (plus noisier outings from this band), the generally sparse compositions here are interesting, but not very deep.  Amazing Grace is actually a pretty prime example, with its wandering pluckings pretty brilliantly haunted by the vaguest element of the source tune, shimmering in via strings… but the track just ends.  It doesn’t do anything with that brilliance but sit there, happy its been discovered, and then, for all its 8-minute song lengths, just abandons it.  Which, sure, is perhaps an effect of recording semi-improv and live, but again – I’ve got plenty of that in my collection, both minimalist and skronky, and it tends to have a  greater sense of completion or achievement attached to its tracks.

So it’s probably not surprising, then, that I prefer the post-rockier compositions, or those tracks that have a sense of motivation.  Track 3, Your Cells Are in Motion, is soothingly groovy, and the 20-minute epic Michigan Avenue Social Club ranks up there with some of JOMF’s best freak-out jams.  And after reading about the album’s Americana influences, I can appreciate traditional takes like Go Down, Old Hannah, which has a creaky, dreamy From Quagmire feel to it.  And to be fair, we’ve just covered a good part of the runtime.  But: The moments between these highlights are songs that just don’t fill up enough space for me.  Plenty of interesting sounds, yes, and tickling your ears with some good ideas, but only about half an albums worth of the really compelling stuff.

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