E.A.R. / Jessamine

Living Sound

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Jessamine's farewell gift was actually an archival live effort from a Seattle show, the second of the group's collaborations with Pete Kember, aka Spacemen 3's Sonic Boom. Having done a split studio effort with him under the Spectrum guise, here Sonic wears his E.A.R. hat, playing everything from his favored analog keyboards to bowed cymbals and theremin. Jessamine itself concentrates on its usual instrumentation; nobody sings, and the entire performance is sequenced as seven different tracks, each presumably improvisations or newly rehearsed numbers. All are clearly part of the same overall piece, though, introduced by Sonic with his usual reverb heavy treatments and in ways dictated by him throughout. Jessamine fall somewhere between being a backing band for his explorations and being full partners, but whatever the exact nature of the partnership at any one point it's a productive one. Sonic's warm flow of textures and treatments adds a greater depth to the band's sound, replacing the silences that sometimes come to the fore with constant activity; in turn, the band's jams and slow builds give an extra rock bite to the usual E.A.R. approach. The fifth track in particular lets Ritter build up some screaming, off-center feedback noise, while Brown picks up where Sonic leaves off partway through, his slightly calmer keyboards offsetting the bubbling chaos a bit rather than driving it forward. The sixth, meanwhile, brings everyone and everything to a screaming head, Sonic's sheer noise matched electronic scream for scream by the others, walls of feedback, static, and more all colliding very messily, before everything slowly, surely concludes with final calm fadeouts.

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