I often wonder what it would have been like to hear Miles’ seminal ’Bitches Brew’ for the first time… when it was released. There must have been some serious wow going on. I say this because I have experienced some serious wow whilst listening to ”Samuel Jackson Five” by the fabulously named The Samuel Jackson Five… and thought that could be a comparable feeling.
From the start, this is one awesome listen… right through to the end. It’s difficult to describe the sound other than to say that this is wonderfully progressive post-everything music that is so right for now. The closest I can get to describing this album is to look to the jazz fusionists of the 70s, the progressives of the 70s and 80s, the post-rock soundscapists and math-rockers of now… and, most definitely, The Mars Volta.
The Samuel Jackson Five place the emphasis firmly in the groove but keep a very vigilant watch on melody. This is music that will move you… and keep you interested through the soundscapes they present… and the twists and turns they make on the journey they present.
All types of instrumentation are theirs to use and use them they do… with great effect and expertise. From what I can gather… acoustic guitars, electric guitars, percussion, fuzzy bass, sax, horns, organ, synths, bells, piano, banjo, found-sounds and vocal harmonics all add to the sound… creating something fresh, exciting and joyful.
Most of the tracks are instrumental in nature. The kind of tracks that immerse the listener… feeding the mind and shaking the booty with equal measure… real foot-tapping stuff, in my opinion. ”And then we met the locals” is a real stand out foot-tapper… a song that only common decency and the thought of embarrassing my family can stop me from dancing like a loon every time it comes on my iPod.
In addition there are the most delightful and passionate vocal expressions on there too… the vocals on ”Electric Crayons”, ”Ten Crept In” and ”Tremendous Silence” really add to the album and make me wonder why they didn’t do more with their singer… especially when he sounds like a hybrid version of Jon Anderson and Cederic Bixler-Zavalla.
I can’t stress how much I love this album and am really grateful that it found it’s way to me (thanks Ray). Each track brings something fresh to my ears and to my understanding. The final track, for example – ”Low Entropy” – has the most wonderfully vibrant and melodic solo acoustic guitar on it that just lifts my heart and makes me smile… with synths appearing to complement the guitar… before fading to black with the help of a brief field recording of birdsong.
It’s that kind of album, to be honest… one that I will cherish for a long time to come… one that I must get a physical copy of and one that I would heartily recommend to all my music-loving friends.
I must get a physical copy… preferably on vinyl… so I can truly appreciate the wonderful cover too. Their use of retro-futuristic space graphics is so right for their release and I complement them for their choice.
In summary, I give ”Samuel Jackson Five” by The Samuel Jackson Five 9 out of 10 and already know who I am going to give a copy to for their birthday.