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Jackie-O Motherfucker - Ballads of the Revolution

  by Chris O'Toole

published: 10 / 5 / 2009

Jackie-O Motherfucker - Ballads of the Revolution
Label: Fire Records
Format: CD


Evocative and lush-sounding tenth album from psychedelic/folk experimentalists, Jackie O Motherfucker

Heralded by a knowing few, the conceptual project Jackie O Motherfucker explores the aural possibilities of merging folk song structures with disintegrating tape loops – along the way creating shimmering, intricate ballads of tragic beauty. Their tenth album proper, 'Ballads of the Revolution', is composed of six such pieces; meshing together the lush, open arrangements which have grown to become the group’s trademark – both on and off the stage - to form a work of swirling psychedelic vision. Less of a band, more an evolving collage of individual expression, Jackie O Motherfucker encompasses emerging ideas where they are encountered and transforms them into a gentle but incessant whole. The group has a revolving carousel of participants, each contributing their quixotic talents before returning to the multitude of other projects associated with the band (Eternal Tapestry, White Rainbow and the Evolutionary Jazz Band to name but a few). The collaborative nature of the group is demonstrated on the opening piece, ‘Nightingale’ - a rearrangement of a traditional ballad. With mainstay Tom Greenwood (vocal and guitar) joined by Lewi Longmire on steel guitar and Bob Jones on double bass, the track is stately in pace and pastoral in feel; evocative of gentle American mornings in a cabin by the lake. It is reminiscent of A Silver Mt. Zion and the Tra La La Band, wending its elegant journey at its own leisurely pace. Transforming into ‘Falcon’, the following piece, Jackie O Motherfucker don’t miss as a step; moving to incorporate samples and loops from the original Lucky Dragons piece. The mood is the same - quiet, contemplative – but the tools different. With vocals from occasional collaborator Honey Owens, the piece demonstrates the great skill of the band, melding divergent found sounds and idiosyncratic talents into a single cohesive whole. ‘Skylight’ – a live favourite now committed to tape – follows, offering a more vigorous tone with a consistent plucked guitar joined by occasional peeling, trembling squalls of accompaniment. Greenwood sings of security, a place safe from harm, inviting listeners to take shelter from the coming storm. ‘The Corner’ is propelled by a rumbling keyboard bassline and a faintly ridiculous, nonsensical vocal (talking of eagles and shadows) from Greenwood. Minimal in tone, the track proves the group’s experiments are just that, experiments – sometimes leading to unexpected and, perhaps, undesirable places. Filled with the fuzz guitar of Nick Binderman, ‘The Cryin’ Sea’ increases the pulse before closing piece 'A Mania' ends the record with a piece that comes as close to a single as listeners are likely to get with Jackie O Motherfucker. Greenwood again takes the vocal lead, accompanied by Owens and Joanne Robertson on wah-wah guitar, to offer a beautiful lullaby – the winter to the album's autumn. A quiet melancholy infuses the track as the album comes to a gentle close. Comparable to Michael Gira, Jackie O Motherfucker paint with watercolours to create images of spectral, rustic beauty. Theirs is a quiet revolution of the mind, centered of reflection, introspection and the wonder of community and collaboration.

Track Listing:-
1 Nightingale
2 Dark Falcon
3 Skylight
4 The Corner
5 The Cryin Sea
6 A Mania

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