Jackie-O Motherfucker

Fig. 5

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In its superb 2000 LP, Fig. 5, Jackie-O Motherfucker was inspired by drones, ethnic and folk musics, free jazz, and the hippie spirit of the Grateful Dead, but Fig. 5 melds these genres so effortlessly and convincingly that the results barely resemble any of their antecedents. Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica is probably the most famous precedent for this sort of free-thinking fusion of jazz and folk music, but Fig. 5 is far less forceful than its late-'60s forebear. Jackie O's interpretation of "Amazing Grace" is perhaps the best example of the eclecticism at work here: Violin, harmonica, and banjo settle into a plodding drone that sounds like a skipping recording of a drunken Appalachian band. Then, various wind instruments glide around the drone in a free, fluttery manner that's halfway between Arabic taqasim and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Elsewhere, the group plays bits of old American spirituals, Dirty Three-ish indie rock, Duane Eddy-like guitar twang, and electronic noise, all to good effect. Jackie O's ability to incorporate elements of so many disparate kinds of music without seeming dilettantish is remarkable; the band's ability to do so without showing any seams is extraordinary.

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