Jupiter Transmission

Bobb Trimble

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Jupiter Transmission Review

by Ned Raggett

Bobb Trimble's cult is a small but worthy one, which the release of Jupiter Transmission in the mid-'90s demonstrated. Cherry-picking the two early-'80s albums that founded his reputation -- Iron Curtain Innocence and Harvest of Dreams -- Jupiter Transmission serves as a handy introduction to a quietly unnerving but entrancing body of work. Trimble's falsetto is easily the most immediately memorable thing about his work, a high, restrained quaver that is both beautiful and alien -- compared to, say, the singing of early Incredible String Band or Tyrannosaurus Rex-era Marc Bolan, Trimble is more controlled and creepy at once. He often situates his voice in the arrangements to sound like he's trying to tell you something carefully without letting you catch what it all is, and when it meshes with the music at its best, the result is very much like, indeed, a radio message from beyond. The opening "Glass Menagerie Fantasies," caught somewhere between epic glam descends and zoned-out space rock, sets the tone well for the collection, as well as showing Trimble's ability to catch an otherworldly mood as effectively as, say, contemporaries like Chrome (though with much less feedback and volume). A couple of songs aside, Trimble's reflective guitar playing isn't the lead instrument but arguably neither is anything else -- it's the sense of a collage and combination that predominates, as with the murky blend of cackling interjections on "Night at the Asylum" and the odd calls and chirps during the break on "Take Me Home Vienna." A few songs are a touch more "normal" -- the gentler pop of "Your Little Pawn" and "You're in My Dreams," the vocal/guitar combination of "If Words Were All I Had" -- but that's more in a matter of degrees than anything else. What's perhaps most sharp of all about the songs here is that Trimble audibly isn't trying to re-create but find a new synthesis -- it's not '60s or '70s revivalism but an extension into another decade from what had gone before, with its own stamp.

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