Woefully under-appreciated San Francisco area avant-rock band Jack O’ The Clock has released a new album. But unlike their previous four, which are takes on the band’s own melancholic version of progressive rock / rock in opposition, Outsider Songs is a 30 minute EP of covers. Given the band’s background, the targeted artists may seem surprising – Morrissey, Duran Duran, R.E.M., Paul Simon, and Bjork are featured. However, group leader Damon Waitkus stated that these songs were ones that he or another band member had loved for years and never tired of hearing.
Having said that, Outsider Songs does not feature straight covers. Instead, Jack O’ The Clock applies a unique interpretation to each. Not being familiar with any of the originals, I cannot say how much the covers deviate, but apparently some are essentially re-composed and rearranged. Thematically, Jack O’ The Clock is known for lyrics and an overall feel that exudes subtle darkness that borders on the disturbing. The songs here are similar in that regard – perhaps chosen subconsciously. Each is focused on a person trying to find their place in a world for which they are not quite suited.
Is this the best place to start with Jack O’ The Clock? 2013’s All My Friends probably gets the nod in that regard. But if you are a fan of any of these songs, or of the group, do take a listen to Outsider Songs. There aren’t many current American bands that combine compositional sophistication and emotional poignancy quite the way Waitkus and his co-conspirators manage to pull off on a regular basis.
Read our previous Jack O’ The Clock reviews:
All My Friends (2013)
Night Loops (2014)
September Traveler is a collection of works recorded in 2011 and 2012 by Sound Awakener (Nhung Nguyen). It serves as the soundtrack for Irene Cruz’s exhibition What Dreams Are Made Of, which took place in Berlin from 6th to 18th February, 2015.
The Sound Awakener project is one of a growing number of artists that combine ambient electronic music (e.g., Brian Eno, Steve Roach) with musique concrete. September Traveler features layered background drones with foreground acoustic instruments. The drones are dark, ominous, and unsettling. In particular, the 16-minute The Shade You’ve Become is a disturbing journey through a heavily processed landscape with fractured vocal remnants, stark tones, and grinding electroacoustics.
Clocking in at approximately 30 minutes, September Traveler feels as if it contains edited-down versions of longer works. Nonetheless, the album offers a haunting progression, and it should be thoroughly satisfying for fans of the aforementioned styles.
Audiophile Audition reviews the latest release from Spin Marvel.
Matthew Shipp and Michael Bisio perform in Pittsburgh on April 1st.
The latest release from Italian experimental band Zu is reviewed.
Ilia Belorukov & Petr Vrba have released a new album for free download on AvantWhatever.
From Nashville’s Theatre Intangible:
Thursday at the Platform: Intersection’s debut program Transfiguration
Intersection is a new Nashville ensemble that specializes in 20th and 21st century contemporary music, and they’re performing for the first time on Thursday, March 26th. More from the Intersection program notes:
Original choreography, artwork and a stage that blurs the lines between the audience and performers. Transfiguration is Intersection’s debut performance and will redefine the traditional concert experience. Featuring works entirely from contemporary composers, Transfiguration showcases classical music’s next chapter alongside local art organizations New Dialect and Zeitgeist Gallery. And with nineteen musicians from across the nation, the evening is a carefully curated atmosphere that for one night only devotes Nashville’s finest to the craft of avant-garde music and art for listeners of all ages.
Friday in Nashville: Matthew Shipp / Michael Bisio at VFW Post 1970, Future Night at Queen Ave.
Matthew Shipp and Michael Bisio are returning to the Nashville VFW Post 1970 on Friday, March 27th! Their 2013 Nashville show was cited by many as the year’s top event. Friday’s show is presented by FMRL Arts and also features The Xists, an experimental rock duo featuring Seth and Jocephus Hudson. Tickets are $20. Doors at 8 p.m. Show at 9 p.m.
Friday also marks the return of Future Night at Queen Avenue Art Collective. This installment features Terror’ish, Mge, Circuit Benders’ Ball alum Joey Molinaro, and Future Daze. There will also be art installations by Taylor O’Connor, Mike Kluge, Tyler Blankenship, and Evan Wise. Tickets are $5. Doors at 8:30 p.m. Show at 9:30 p.m.