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Wow / The Magick Fire Music

Jackie-O Motherfucker
Wow / The Magick Fire Music
(ATP/Touch N Go)

I was a late bloomer when it came to Jackie-O Motherfucker. Although I had heard of the group, I didn't pick up an album of theirs until their fifth full length (Liberation), and I didn't even keep up with them very well after that. I suppose it doesn't help that they're prolific as heck, but the fact remains that this is the second release of theirs that I have now gotten ahold of and enjoy quite a bit.

A 2CD set culled from several live shows, this 10 track effort is once again all about the journey and not about the destination. Although the group reaches some definite peaks during the course of the 2 hour recording, it's more about filling the spaces in between with beautiful moments, not an easy task given that most of the release is improvised. At first, it all seems a bit overwhelming, but the release starts off with one of the best tracks on the entire release in "Extension." Building up with some ping-ponging electronics, eventually layers of shimmering guitars come pouring down and cymbals add another hazy element while subtle electronics and keyboards fizzle in the background. It all feels sort of like a Godspeed You Black Emperor track without the monstrous crescendo (and instead with a slight middle-eastern tinge), but the steady pace of the track and the swarming sonics of the track more than make up for any huge explosion.

"Bone Saw" takes things in an even more structure direction, moving steadily with chimes and warm guitars that ring out and across one another as real drumming and ocassional junk percussion blend across the palette. Towards the end, skronky horns enter alongside bleeding guitar riffs, and the whole thing falls apart perfectly just after reaching enough of a peak. "The Cage" is all desert-dry reverbed guitars and lo-fi electronic programming, sounding like Ennio Morricone versus a broken-down sampler.

Amazingly, the group manages to keep things up on the great "Second Ave. 2AM," a tripped-out track that layers horn bursts with more great guitar sounds before everything slowly (and I stress slowly) comes together behind a super sluiced beat and the whole thing locks into a wicked groove. A couple of the remaining tracks on the first disc ("Jugband 2000" and "Quaker") take off in slightly different directions, and while they're not quite as successful as the first tracks, they're still interesting at the very least.

Slightly more unfocused than the first disc, the second disc is mainly a chance for the group to really stretch out and let things unfold slowly. "Black Squirrels" is the shortest of the bunch, a sort of back-porch jam with jangly guitars and a funky bassline that runs about 8 minutes while "Wow" clocks in at a whopping 25 minutes and blends in everything from tribal influences to jazz. Hearing JOMF again, I realize now that I should probably check out some of their older work again. Although it's improvised, much of the music on this release stands up with studio recordings that I've heard by other groups this year (especially on the first disc). It's not for those with a short attention span, but if you don't mind waiting for things to develop a bit, you'll find yourself rewarded richly.

Rating: 7.75