Jackson and His Computer Band
Smash
2005
B-



much like compatriots Mouse on Mars and Jason Forrest, twenty-six-year-old Jackson Fourgeaud rarely allows you time to recline. You can picture the three artists, each hot-footing to keep you moving in some eternal game of musical chairs, unwatched by time and allowed to evolve forever. They love to twitch and pulsate, and then they start again, two seconds gone, on some new maniacal movement and you up and lose your seat. This is music made for the fervent pump of the Ritalin era, for school-kids doped out by the PTA and teachers glad to have it so.

But unlike MoM (until their most recent work, Radical Connector and live04) and the erstwhile Ms. Donna Summer, Jackson manages to anchor many of his compositions with a hypnotic beat or a synth line that holds them down against all the froth, all the frantic machinery hot at work. Sure, there’s a lot of unsettling gurgling underneath his post-French-house grooves, but beside those gutter-breaks and splices of vocals and samples, Jackson allows you time to come down. It’s not all tension, but a slow shuffle from desperation point to desperation point. There are squalls and rushes that overwhelm, but always that swooning segue that brings you back around.

In fact, Jackson’s debut, Smash, is loaded with these compelling, if a touch grandiose, movements. Opener “Utopia” swells with glam break-beats and what might be Whitney Houston samples, spliced and stitched back again toe-up, and “Arpeggio” uses a quick synth-stomp to soundtrack Arnie-cum-Sly-cum-Vin, a widescreen symphony worth its weight in faux gold chains. “Tropical Metal” lives up to its name, building from alternating synth tones into a rusted android polonaise. But perhaps Smash’s greatest hit comes in the sensual choral gaze on “Hard Tits.” Against a gummy beat and fading piano tones, Jackson pushes the juice up past gag, all Goldfrapp-esque mewing and grotesque charm. Like his best moments, Jackson goes completely over the edge just to stabilize himself, and it’s a high-wire act well worth the listen.

Unfortunately, the record fails at times to live up to its largesse. Both “Teen Beat” and the aptly-titled “Headache” succumb to their garbage-disposal sequencing, and the tired soul-pop intro to “Fast Life” drains the life out if its eventual rise into bobbing synth-funk. Grace Jones without lips, it’s raw and angular, lacking a focal point.

Still, if you allow Jackson’s debut to linger, it’ll grab hold. Slobbered in chunky Francofunk and packed with cholesterol and plenty of egg yolk. Everything about Jackson and His Computer Band crackles underneath a little too much grease. This is saturation as Denny’s fries it up, and Christ don’t it make you feel like you’ll never eat again.


Reviewed by: Derek Miller
Reviewed on: 2005-09-22
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