Jeremy Smoking Jacket
Now We Are Dead… and Other Stories LP
First impressions of Jeremy Smoking Jacket are ‘what the f*ck is this?’ Then when you actually listen to this clan of musicians, there is something unique and astounding about them, and it isn’t the super impressive press pack!
With White Stripes musical simplicity, weird synthesised loops and Kate Bush (without the crazy dance routine in ‘Wuthering Heights’) style vocals, JSJ kick off their mini LP with ‘Bought Home Cold’ which can be basically summed up in two nouns; angelic and epic.
The follow-up to the opening number is ‘No-one Knows I’m Gone’ which is led by a loop of coughing combined with some beautiful, soulful singing from the voice of Jeremy Smoking Jacket, Rose Kemp. Her vocals draw you into the heart of the song and make you forget the weird yet ingenious background music. The tracks concludes again in this quick becoming theme and trademark of epic sounds with a horn contribution.
‘East October’ is a very abstract song, deviating from the beautiful singing on the previous tracks and adopting a more Dylan/Cash-esque poetic stance into the rough recording. The use of sampling is once again featured using the sound of fireworks and percussion consisting of the faint beat of a drum, giving a raw and ethnic tribal flavour to the song. The song ends as it began with the sound of a dog barking into the night giving connotations of loneliness reflecting that of the vocals and lyrical content.
‘Follows’ musically is a very moving, slow building but definitely worth wait, once again incorporating arousing voice of Rose Kemp mixed with jazzy horns fluttering in the background and the use of clever and appropriate multi-tracking vocals to bring out their full potential.
Lyrically the song is very weak, but then again the lyrical content is not key to the sounds created. The voice has become more of an instrument in a duet with the horns, with very Godspeed and Air influence to the sound. This would be an instant hit with nay post-rock or mellow music fan.
‘Woman Hits Traffic’ has a very difficult task of following ‘Follows’ – what an awkward sentence! But the track has a very full-bodied sound, reminiscent percussion wise of the theatrical performance of ‘STOMP’ fused with piercing horns in the background, translating the title of the track into musical form.
Unfortunately this is the only track the vocals really create a dim light. In fact this would be a much better instrumental track. It lifts up all the way through, building up to Hitchcock demanding ‘Psycho’ strings, which seem to have a dark beauty, but a very sad sound to them.
The finale in this episode from Jeremy Smoking Jacket is ‘Sleepy Sheep’, which is a very lyrically simple track but also an extremely elegant end to the JSJ journey listeners are taken on and engulfed in.
The CD appears to float past in no time at all with the songs are perfectly lengthened to make you want more, but not to make you sick of the ridiculous looping effects.
I can say I have heard very few bands that have ‘struck a chord’ with me in recent years like Jeremy Smoking Jacket have and I can honestly say I cannot wait for the next edition from the JSJ collection. However, I must also add that the music this collection creates is a very hit or miss style, the Marmite of music if you will. A lot of people I played this to were unimpressed and daunted by the abstractness of the music, which lead me to conclude that JSJ are an acquired taste – but if you’re taste buds suit, you are most certainly in for a treat!
Guest article from Paul D.
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