PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Jookabox: The Eyes of the Fly

David "Moose" Adamson's wildly inventive Indianapolis outfit Jookabox calls it a day with a fourth, final, and freakishly beautiful record.


The Eyes of the Fly

Label: Asthmatic Kitty
US Release Date: 2011-04-26
UK Release Date: 2011-04-26

Given David “Moose” Adamson’s lyrical preoccupation with morbid and deathly subjects, in a way it seems grimly appropriate for his musical project to die in childbirth. The Eyes of the Fly is the fourth and now final album by the genre-bending Indianapolis outfit -- which has recently “thrown in the towel” -- and is as freakishly beautiful as their previous offspring. Indeed, it’s tempting to see this record as a kind of delayed sibling to 2009′s entrancing Dead Zone Boys, as scarcely a single track from either album would seem out of place on the other. More of the same is more than welcome, however. While it is as dark and weird as ever, the alternate Indianapolis dreamworld Jookabox’s music depicts is a place well worth returning to one last time.

That music’s enduring, oddball draw is contributed to greatly by the fact that this is a sound that remains uncommonly surprising and inventive. Like its predecessor, The Eyes of the Fly squirms and slips away from each attempt at categorisation. Adamson’s long-held affection for hip-hop is evident, but only in a form warped and bent almost out of recognition, erratically welded to many and varied synths, guitars, and unidentifiable sounds. The core Jookabox arsenal of variously manipulated vocals and terrific drumming keep the whole project anchored; if not to this world, then to the Rust Belt “dead zone” of Adamson’s imagination.

The creepy funk of “Thriller”, by fellow Indiana native Michael Jackson, is only the most obvious and longstanding of Adamson’s myriad inspirations. There is rock here; flashes of soul and electro, too. However, our guide to the underworld has more sense and ambition than to ape a different style on each tune. The distinctiveness and thrill of Jookabox in general and of The Eyes of the Fly in particular is a product of Adamson’s ability to hybridise styles on so fundamental a level that they form new ones entirely.

The result is a sound which is absolutely Jookabox’s own, and one which performs the striking feat of being both aggressively weird and eminently listenable at the same time. “Webbin’” is a real highlight in this respect; launching out of the blocks with a flurry of hollering treated vocals and echoing drums, it seemingly ducks into a tunnel for a subdued midsection before its chanted group mantra returns for the finale. Later, “Worms” appropriates the dying rasps of a disk drive for its synth-driven hymn to those creatures “writhing underground”. Exciting oddness lies in ambush in almost every bar of every song; even as it is always expected, it is always surprising.

Lyrically speaking, while the talk of flies, worms, and death reflects Adamson’s grim interests, this record nevertheless has a lighter touch than its predecessor. In an era when so much pop music expresses positivity only as well-meaning but hollow admonitions about materialism or self-centredness, Jookabox’s giddy and carefree surrealism is refreshing. Indeed the wordless but usually happy-sounding jeers, hollers, looped cries and screams are arguably the bigger part of the album’s vocal personality; the actual words can sometimes seem more intended as a reminder that we haven’t altogether crossed over into Adamson’s trippy and benevolently haunted world.

The Eyes of the Fly is perhaps best thought of as a slightly more concise companion disc to Dead Zone Boys; more consistent but less frequently spectacular. While the new material lacks the slightly leaden songs which caused Dead Zone Boys to drag, it also lacks a tune as impressive as that album’s incredible “Light”. Those already fallen to Jookabox’s bewitching spell will find it difficult to pick a favourite from the two recent albums; new listeners will find either one a perfect introduction to the other. In sum, The Eyes of the Fly is a thrilling and fitting epitaph for a project of enviable innovation and verve -- “Moose” Adamson’s next moves should be followed with all the eyes you have spare.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





20 Songs from the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.


Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.


The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.


Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.


Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.


Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.


Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.