[6 January 2009]
The freeform music community often traffics in gratuitous completism in the form of extremely limited run self-made CD-Rs and cassettes. And truth be told, there’s plenty to be learned from a live take of a performance that studio details can’t teach. Take “Pull My Daisy” (named after an Beat-era exquisite corpse poem/film) off of Jackie O Motherfucker’s all-improv, all-live Freedomland. The song defiantly exhibits the chatty crowd patter of the average noise audience, who seem distracted and disinterested until the band’s wild maelstrom of lysergic cacophony gives the onlookers something that’s extremely hard to keep their eyes and ears off of.
Still, it’s curious why this series of live takes, recorded from the ensuing tour that followed Jackie O Motherfucker’s most commercially viable album to date (Flags of the Sacred Harp), was released on a major indie like Very Friendly rather than the bandrunner Tom Greenwood’s own U Sound Archive. To call these recordings bootleg quality is to strongly discredit advancements in modern bootlegging technology. The ecclesiastical upward-bent synth drone and cautious histrionics of vocalist Eva Salens (also known as Inca Ore) may lead to an empyreal jam session a la Sun Ra on “Shukran” (Arabic for “thank you”), but even the notoriously lo-fi Sun Ra had better production values than this track, which sounds like it was recorded on a boombox, does. That the finales of tracks like the aforementioned “Pull My Daisy” are clipped rather than faded out can be attributed to nothing but sloth. As good as some of the material is and as traditional as the freak-folk free-jazz outfit is (they don’t even have an official web site), it almost seems archaic to release an album like this onto a public fed up with buying physical music.
Ultimately, Freedomland is curate’s egg. The sound’s lack of distinctions allows for an occasionally powerful wall-of-noise to amalgamate into a delectable din that sounds massive and organic, but elsewhere the music sounds more like the catalogued memory of an impressive performance than the distinctive sound of a band at its best.