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Jackie O Motherfucker - The Blood of Life

  by Chris O'Toole

published: 8 / 11 / 2008

Jackie O Motherfucker - The Blood of Life
Label: Fire Records
Format: CD


Effective combination of new material and reworkings of old songs recorded live in Amsterdam by Portland-based oddball and maverick post rockers Jackie O Motherf**ker

Oddballs by design, Jackie O Motherfucker have always taken the path less travelled during their mysterious career – with a constant cast of members revolving around a single nucleus. Formed in hipster central Portland, Oregon in 1994 the group has issued countless albums during its undulating tenure – with multi-instrumentalist Tom Greenwood the only constant throughout the group's career. Garnering somewhat of maverick reputation, Greenwood has incorporated drone, free jazz, and space-rock into his improvisational pieces to produce a subdued, restless interpretation of post-rock. Greenwood is notoriously difficult to work with and has seen the likes of Adam Forkner (formerly of Dark Yoga, World, Surface of Eceon and Yume Bitsu), Nester Bucket and Jessie Carrot offer their talents before quietly being shown the door. Here he is joined by Rick Bindeman (Eternal Tapestry), drummer Danny Sasaki and guitarist Honey Owens to produce an album, recorded as live, in the VPRO Radio Studios in Amsterdam during 2007. While not a new album in the fullest sense, 'The Blood of Life' offers enough intriguing oddities to be worth consideration by more than just the odd obsessive. Indeed, what is contained is an interesting mix of the old and the new. The opening track of this, their Fire Records debut, is a reworking of the title track to 2007's 'Valley of Fire', quickly followed by new interpretations of Jackie O Motherfucker classics 'The Grave' and 'Hey! Mr Sky'. The work is then rounded off by traditional ballad 'Lost Jimmy Walen' and new piece 'The Blood of Life'. Despite the disparate origins of the work, 'The Blood of Life' presents a remarkably consistent listen; rarely straying past strolling pace, but offering enough to keep the listener returning for more. 'The Valley of Fire' is here given virtual spoken word treatment, with just a finger-picked guitar and occasional bass twang for accompaniment. Greenwood offers his views in occasional bursts, while colourful waves of guitar spread like rainbow coloured water over oil. The feeling is emotive, but lacks focus and direction - as though the singer is grateful to feel any emotional resonance each passing moment. 'The Grave' offers more of the same, with a semi-religious 'heaven and earth' theme. Guitars are picked and left to echo through time, without any pressure to reach their destination. Throughout the album the band posses an innate sense of style and elegance – much as their namesake Jacqueline Onassis once did – offering a deliberate sense of poise, despite their wilful neglect of standard structure and form. Jackie O are completely comfortable in their own space, allowing their muted jams to stretch out at leisure and offering their insight over minutes rather than seconds. This is lonesome, sub-folk which produces little in the way of instant gratification, but rewards the listener with a deeper emotional wellbeing over the long-run.

Track Listing:-
1 The Valley Of Fire
2 The Grave
3 Hey! Mr Sky
4 Lost Jimmy Walen
5 The Blood Of Life

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