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Published: 2009/08/17
by Randy Ray

Jackie-O Motherfucker
Ballads of the Revolution

Fire
Fifteen years into a career thats had just as many rotating band members as shifting schizophrenic soundscapes, Jackie-O Motherfucker continues to illuminate the vacuum of deep space. On their latest, the often aptly-titled Ballads of the Revolution, one senses that the psychedelia is more post-epoch change, rather than the turbulent event itself.
Revolutions come and go, as do musicians in Tom Greenwoods aural space rock band. Indeed, the multi-instrumentalist is the one remaining constant in his consistently evolving collective. And consistency itself is a tricky word, especially when describing work of such an experimental naturecareer-length, or this particular CD in question. The six-song work clocks in at around 40 minutes, travels far and wide, and keeps its reach somewhat extended, but also does a fine job of retracting into internal inertia.
The piece begins with the softly-spoken/sung Nightingale, slowly rotating within its nocturnal tractor beam. Owing just as much to early ’70s Pink Floyd as it does to a Jerry Garcia ballad, the pedal steel rides under the currents of a timeless void.

Segueing into the delightfully trippy Dark Falcon, JOMF manages to find a weird instrumental groove laced with cool Honey Owens vocals that is seductive and mysterious without being strange. Weird, when weird defies ancient gravity, is generally good in my noodle-curious mind, and it certainly is here as the song creates another rich tapestry early on in the overall motif.
Skylight is all revolution, though, fearless and confident, narrator reciting tone poems, rolling over echoed guitars and a down tempo rhythm section, gelling into a cosmic take on mans grasp of celestial sanity.
The second half of the album is also an interesting mixture of turbulent themes drenched in psychedelic, folk, and post-jaded confessional scenes. The Corner is dark and kaleidoscopic, reminiscent of heady montage tape collages, troubled and ominous, and Greenwoods unpredictably-placed vocals serve as the voice of the haunted aftermath. Again, one feels the audio and metaphysical drift are more edited scenes from the post-revolution, and this lends the work an added weight of time-traveling resonance.
The Cryin Sea tears down the walls of reality and takes the listener on a ten-minute trip that is all new empire, albeit one wrapped up in an exotically-similar rhythmic framework. Neither venturing too far, nor seeking easy friendship, the song tumbles onwards, riding the back of a heavily-stroked and extended guitar riff.
Ballads of the Revolution reaches a peaceful resolution on A Maniaa subtly complex duet featuring acoustic, electric wah wah, and Greenwood/Owens vocals, and closing the work with a peaceful signpost which is both melancholic and somehow romantic in a way that only a decade-and-a-half career can sometimes achieve.

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