Jack o' the Clock — How Are We Doing, and Who Will Tell Us?
(Bandcamp no#, 2011, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2011-06-01
The East Bay area (Oakland and surrounding) has produced some interesting musical hybrids of late. A lot of that no doubt has to do with Fred Frith’s involvement with the esteemed Mills College, where many of the musicians involved in this musical renaissance have ties. Enter Jack o’ the Clock, a five-piece led by Damon Waitkus, who plays guitar, banjo, piano, flute, ukelin, hammer dulcimer, and sings. This is their second release. Other members provide additional voices (male and female), violins, bass, banjo, trombone, psaltery, flute, recorder, accordion, bassoon, drums, and percussion, as well as field recordings to the mix. Their sound might nominally be called experimental folk, as acoustic instruments tend to dominate, and the compositions – odd as they sometimes may seem – are song oriented, yet they are pushing those limits out in every direction, be it 20th Century classical, Americana, chamber, progressive rock, medieval music, just about anything one might imagine. For example in one section of the ten-minute “First of the Year,” Beach Boys-like harmonies mix with chugging metal rhythms flanked by beautiful classical-inspired melodies courtesy of violin and bassoon. Field recordings and sound effects mix freely with their inventive arrangements, where almost anything becomes possible, yet always remains listenable. Normally around this part of a review I would offer some reference points or comparisons, but in this case that would be futile. There’s an amazing amount of originality in these twelve tracks, and those looking for some intrepid, barrier-breaking music would do well to start here.
Related artist(s): Jack o' the Clock
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more