Wild Mercury Sound

Jackie O Motherfucker: "Valley Of Fire"

John Mulvey

We just had one of those weirdly serendipitous moments on the stereo, accidentally finding affinities, as you don't, between Kanye West and Jackie O Motherfucker.

Somewhat after the event, I'll admit, I finally got round to playing Kanye's "Graduation", the highlight of a pretty dispiriting experience (and I write as someone who loved his first two albums) being a hefty sample from Can's "Sing Swan Song" on the almost identically-themed "Drunk And Hot Girls". Soon after, we put on the new Motherfucker album, "Valley Of Fire", and I was struck by the way its opening track, "Sing", has that orbiting, featherlight feel of Can at their most evanescent.

I guess it's not much of a surprise to find a band like JOMF referencing Can; after all, the affinities between New Weird American types and their Krautrock brethren have been well-documented, not least by me. Jackie O Motherfucker, I should explain at this point, are one of those new weird/psych/free folk/avant-jam bands so beloved of this blog - though in fairness I haven't actually been down this path for a good two or three weeks now.

They are, I think, from Portland, Oregon, though the nature of these ever-shifting collective units means that anything so prosaic as a base camp might be a bit reductive for such free spirits. As a basic reference point, I suppose Sunburned Hand Of The Man might work. That said, JOMF are probably less pranksterish and funkish, and more inclined to a heady, slow-building, dilated-pupils, backwoods spacerock.

That came into sharp focus on the uncanny folkish songforms of "Flags Of The Sacred Harp", which came out a couple of years ago on the ATP label. And that trend continues to a point on "Valley Of Fire", not least on the title track, which sits somewhere spiritual between Will Oldham and Spacemen 3.

It's a lovely, warm record, all told, and more welcoming than some of the freak-outs from this world which I've featured here in the past. "Valley Of Fire" is, above everything, economical and beautifully structured, drifting in on that wave of cosmic rustle, coming gently into focus with a couple of tremulous folk songs, then unravelling with the mighty rattle and hum of "We Are Channel Zero", which arrives at chaos in a very beguiling way. Some of the chants on this last jam might remind you vaguely of the Animal Collective and there's some great octopoid free drumming going on which reminds me of sometime Sunburned man Chris Corsano (particularly his work on Six Organs Of Admittance's "School Of The Flower").

But the point is, if you've been a bit wary of the heavier free end of the acid-folk whatever, have a go at this. The title track is playing now at their myspace.


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