Album Reviews

Jackie-O Motherfucker – Ballads Of The Revolution

(Fire) UK release date: 6 July 2009


Experimental US collective Jackie-O Motherfucker are almost defined bytheir loose-fit free-form approach. Over the last 15 years the”project” has evolved and developed, with members and collaborators comingand going, to work with lynchpin Tom Greenwood, and often – as with this,their 10th studio album – taking inspiration from their improvisatory liveperformances and feeding those ideas back into subsequent recordings.

Thisalbum (perhaps named after a Diego Rivera mural of the same name), with amere six tracks and a total running time of just over 40 minutes, isnevertheless as dense and ideas-rich as other releases of twice itslength.

Opening track Nightingale, a version of a traditional ballad, is a gentleand accessible starter. Ushered in with the softest of drones, the vocalhere – and also on The Cryin’ Sea and A Mania – has a lovely gentle,slightly off-key yet inclusive quality to it. The lilting three-four waltzrhythm contributes to the effect, which is slightly at odds with themelancholy lyrics (“And weeping, she cries / My heart is broken” … “All hopeis destroyed”), but the dissonance is an agreeable one.

Skylight – whichhas featured in JOMF live sets for the past few years – has a similar warmthand relatively straightforward structure to it, but this time layered, fulland psychedelic, with the drones threatening to overwhelm and subsume themain melodic thread in places. Closer A Mania, with its much more sparse(mainly acoustic guitar) setting also charms with its warmth, this timeenhanced by the addition of a female backing vocal courtesy of HoneyOwens.

The most experimental and superficially “challenging” track to be foundon this release is Dark Falcons – an improvisation based on a Lucky Dragonssong, which includes samples and loops from that original recording. As theflutter of various unidentifiable wind and percussion instruments graduallycoalesces behind the disembodied and unearthly vocal, the mood that iscreated is one of mystery touched with a little darkness or unease.

As thevolume swells with the arrival of more frenetic percussion and psychedelicguitar and synth effects it becomes disorientating, trippy, frenzied. Alsoon the darker, more unconventional end of the spectrum is The Corner, withits sinister bass line, gurgling glitches, sudden crashes and the whistlingwind in the background. The vocal here, too, is sinister and the listeneris never allowed to settle, with seemingly random noise eruptions aroundeach “corner” keeping you on your toes.

Quite the opposite effect is achieved in the following track The Cryin’Sea. Here “settling in” is precisely what the listener can do, tothis extended jam, with its basic structure stretched and slowly unfurlingfor all of its 10+ minutes: a long soak in a warm bath of psychedelia.

Living with and getting to know this album, then, is also an immersiveexperience. More concerned with conveying mood and atmosphere than concreteor transparent meaning, it is a marvellous and evocative journey upon whichyou will be taken, if you succumb to its insignificant challenges and itsmany more significant charms.


buy Jackie-O Motherfucker MP3s or CDs
Spotify Jackie-O Motherfucker on Spotify


More on Jackie-O Motherfucker
Jackie-O Motherfucker – Ballads Of The Revolution