Exposé Online banner

Exposé Online

Not just outside the box, but denying the existence of boxes.
Covering music from the fringes since 1993.


Jack o' the Clock — The Warm, Dark Circus
(Bandcamp no#, 2023, DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2023-10-27

The Warm, Dark Circus Cover art

It sometimes happens that when I sit down to write a review and put on the album in question, I find myself enjoying listening to it so much that it gets to the end without me having written a word. In the course of a life, this isn’t a major problem, but it does hold me up from getting through my review queue. The Warm, Dark Circus is one of those albums. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve listened to it by now, and I always get distracted by how great it sounds. Jack o’ the Clock is a band that has a sound I really love, with beautiful acoustic instruments working together with a top-notch rhythm section to produce a wonderful kind of modern art music. If you’ve heard one of their previous albums, you can expect more of the same, only better, and if you haven’t, you’ve got some enjoyable discoveries ahead of you. Chief composer Damon Waitkus sings and plays guitars, hammer dulcimer, piano, flute, and more; he’s joined by long-time cohorts Emily Packard (violin, viola), Jason Hoopes (bass), Jordan Glenn (drums, accordion, synth), Kate McLoughlin (bassoon), Thea Kelly (vocals), and Ivor Holloway (saxophones), along with a host of others on more woodwinds, strings, and guitars, including Ben Spees (The Mercury Tree) and Karl Evangelista (Grex). The arrangements vary from delicate and sparse to dense and frenetic, and include new versions of tracks dating quite a way back in the band’s history. “How Are We Doing…” and “...And Who Will Tell Us?” together comprise the title of a 2011 release, though the music is significantly reworked here. And in addition to their well-known mastery of acoustic textures, this album includes some of the heaviest music they’ve ever produced. “Division Blues” features a thudding electric riff and distorted vocals, owing more to King Crimson’s Red than anything in the group’s catalog, but somehow manages to fit, just adding another facet to what Jack o’ the Clock does. This is a great album, and certainly one of the year’s highlights.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): Jack o' the Clock

More info


What's new

These are the most recent changes made to artists, releases, and articles.