(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Friday, September 24, 2010

CD review - Jack Jeffery, Passage to Agadir (2010)

Jack Jeffery promises a lot for his debut CD, Passage to Agadir. His press release name checks Pink Floyd, the Beatles, the Velvet Underground, and Brian Eno among others before describing the album as "sequenced to transport the listener on a trip through ambient, psychedelic, electronic, acoustic, and folk rock soundscapes". Song by song, Jeffery delivers on some of the influences he names and he dishes up some well crafted songs.

On the other hand, because he covers so much music ground, Passage to Agadir doesn't flow so smoothly. The genre hopping track list juxtaposes the Kraftwerk electronic tribute of Auf Wiedersehen! against the Pink Floyd homage, Interstellar Echoes on the Dark Side, which is jarring. Cutting a few of these out (Whiskey Burns, Where's the Ambient Jam?, Acoustic Mojo, Auf Wiedersehen!, and Build It Up) would have made this a tighter album. Those are good songs, but they weaken the impact of Passage to Agadir.

The most pleasant surprise on the album was Interstellar Echoes on the Dark Side. As a huge Pink Floyd fan, I was nervous that it would either be a painful mashup or a mediocre facsimile. While there are elements of One of These Days and Welcome to the Machine scattered about, Interstellar Echoes stood on its own. Jeffery took the pieces (ringing washes of synth, a wail of guitar, and a solid groove) and gave it more of a sequenced, electronic vibe. This modernized the feel. The song evolves like a cyborg, organic touches on electron bones, before a surprising return to the start.

Acoustic Mojo has a blues based jam on a heavily flanged out acoustic guitar. The ringing chords at the end promise an interesting change of mood that isn't resolved. This feels like a sketch rather than a fully realized song, but the tease at the end adds an intriguing complexity. It's refreshing.

The trippy Mind Horizon is out there on YouTube, but the several others are on Jeffery's MySpace page, including another favorite track, the subtle psychedelia of You've Lost Tomorrow.

Passage to Agadir is available at the usual online spots (iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby. On the whole, I'd recommend a Kasteel Brune (strong Belgian dark beer) while you listen.

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