Saturday, July 11, 2009
Jackie Under My Skin
Far and away my favourite band right now is Jackie O Motherfucker who I saw last night at Cafe Oto in Dalston in East London (the bit right next to North).
Cafe Oto is a fairly new venue, a space that it is just the right size for sonic exploration to a receptive audience (capacity about 200) and a great sound system. It has an excellently peaceful, thoughtful vibe and an authentic Japanese kitchen. I will definitely return to check out other acts there.
JOMF embody the spirit of music for me. Emotional, experimental, at times abrasive, at times melodic, celebratory, plaintive, melodic, all of these things. They create a wall of sound or perhaps more appropriately an ocean of sound. Within this ocean are recognisable pockets of sound - folk, country, shoegazing, psychedelic, prog rock, punk, funk. But the overall effect of it is uniquely JOMF. As every Renoir painting is, no matter what Renoir had originally intended to paint, uniquely Renoir (what's the name of that phenomenon, silent audience?)
Powerdove was the first support with her beautiful voice, mastery of acoustic guitar (though slow it was some Paco de Lucia shit and so different to when someone just strums) and genuine feeling. The audience was (mostly) humbled into a reverent silence. She and we were all naked together in a warm, shining, gently humming, softly smelling way.
Then came one of the JOMF guys in a solo project. I forget the name. Distorted-sounding blues, kind of raggedy and shouty but pretty good. Reminded me of the electronic and shouty Suicide stuff.
JOMF then came on. They're often described as a 'loose collective' so I don't know how representative this line-up was, but from the closeness of the music I heard that night to the recorded works, I would guess pretty close. They had an assortment of instruments, pedals and assorted bits of technology cobbled together like an piece of found art. You could tell this collection of shit has quite organically grown to its current jumble over the years. At first - and again at several times throughout the set - the band (except the drummer) tested, probed, whispered to and fiddled with their gadgets like stoned scientists, always tweaking that sound a little more JOMFwards.
JOMF is, I guess, pretty much Tom Greenwood. Gangly, nerdy, big glasses in a blue baseball jacket, he limboed before two microphones tied together, dropping occasionally recognisable lyrics into the ocean of sound. Meanwhile the previous solo act was on bass, another dude on dreams (real drums though there was some looped shit happening too) and another was on slide guitar, though he switched to a guitar which he held upside down on the ground to get some floor vibration sounds(?) The slide guitar sound works so well in this context, like the faint strains of a country station dropping into some weird interference as you take a romantic night drive over Arizona highways. Lynchian and Wendersian road movie imagery abounded in my mind during the set. They played about three 'pieces' within which they drifted in and out of recognizable 'songs' from their oeuvre.
It was an astonishingly good concert. I realise my mind has been opened by drug use, exposure to weird music and no doubt some genetic predelictions too but I really think they're one of the greatest bands of all time. The music manages to be ambient and rhythmic at the same time, new forms and new sonic experiences are constantly dropped into the mix.
'Writing about music is like dancing about architecture' So apparently said Frank Zappa and I tend to concur. However, JOMF hit the heights for me and I feel beholden to show my appreciation and spread the word.
Footnote: On my way to a friend's barbecue the next day I was walking around Hammersmith where I saw a very tiny stage set up in front of the Lyric theatre there. A four piece comprising members of The Holloway Brothers, Coomassie and The Egg were playing the funkiest, weirdest, wickedest jam which sounded like 5000 Light Years From Home crossed with the jam bit of Riders On The Storm but more upbeat. Fucking awesome. There was a guy attached to a 12 foot puppet running around with some kids for awhile but it was mostly just me (under my umbrella) in the audience. Disgraceful. If I was running things I'd put some good-trip drugs in the Hammersmith water supply.