Jessamine's second full album continued developing the spooked-out space/Krautrock inspirations of the band's debut, resulting in an attractive and most captivating trip. Cleverly and creatively, Jessamine have clear influences without obviously trying to exactly clone any of them -- motorik pace meets with tape-loop cutups, psych zoned-and-stoned flow hits up against almost goth-heavy basslines. Compared to, say, Bardo Pond's almost punishing heaviness, Jessamine demonstrates a slightly cleaner approach, not really perfectly crisp and precise, but one that allows for more immediate subtleties. Dawn Smithson's bass in many ways takes the lead, not merely setting the pace with Michael Faeth's drumming taking a lead melodic role while guitar feedback, heavily tweaked, floats through the mix (check "Periwinkle" for a good example). Andy Brown's keyboards are, in many ways, the group's secret weapon; while the remaining three can kick up a damn good rock-out storm on their own, it's his extra swirls, bits, and bleeps that often make the songs something special. Twice there's sheer drone head nodding courtesy of him on "It's Cold in Space," everyone else dropping out for a bit to let him take over, with a separate complete freakout towards the end, all sorts of squirrelly flanged noises and burbles creating more than a little chaos. Call it a bit of low-key Brian Eno in early Roxy Music, if one likes, though without the glam. The way the group splits up the opening songs, "Say What You Can" and "...R What You Mean," is clever -- Rex Ritter takes the first, Smithson the second, while the whole is one lengthy jam. "Polish Countryside" is another long one, Brown's keyboards sounding more conventional than usual in the midsection as everyone finds an open ended space and then pursues it.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett