Folk music has reached its next plateau in Jukeboxer's new album In The Foodchain. (That's folk music as in naive-yet-knowing hymns to nature and the cosmos, not as in goateed guys strumming away at three chords in the cafe on Friends.)
Jukeboxer is the rightful heir to pure folk heroes like Incredible String Band and Pentangle, and a spiritual brother to oft-lauded new avant folkies like Animal Collective. The music that Jukeboxer makes is scenic and pastoral, serene and sublime. Unexpected combinations of organic instruments like banjo and tablas come together all over In The Foodchain, forming new madrigals and baroque bursts.
Noah's longtime collaborating vocalist Amy Jones sings like a cloistered medieval nun - with restraint and precision, tempered by a sultriness simmering below the surface. Tower Recordings percussionist Tim Barnes adds mystic drumming. Besides that, Jukeboxer is mainly Noah Wall - a musician who can play something like 30 instruments, and who possesses a compositional sense that's more classical than verse-chorus-verse.
Jukeboxer songs build in dramatic ways, relying on density and sensation more than easy hooks (though he's got those nailed as well). This structural sense, knowing exactly where a song should go "sshhh" or "Boom," is put to killer effect in the Jukeboxer home recording process. Because, if you didn't already know, Noah Wall is to the digital home studio what Joe Meek was to the unwieldy analogue boards of his time - total virtuoso...
Wait. Let's start this again.
Electronic music has reached its next plateau in Jukeboxer's new album In The Foodchain. (That's electronic music as in synthesizer-driven romance, not as in 5-hour trance DJ sets that sound like a PC giving a filibuster.)
Jukeboxer ties up the most polarized electronic music strands: Soft Cell and Depeche Mode's new romanticism on one hand, the stuttering beauty of Fennesz's laptop on the other. The music that Jukeboxer makes is lush and layered, nostalgic synth lines and contemporary sonic glitches. Unexpected combinations of digital system dirt and sweeping melodic figures come together all over In The Foodchain, forming perfect synth pop for right now (a time when even my grandmother is thinking about buying a mini iPod).
Noah's longtime collaborating vocalist Amy Jones has the deadpan delivery of a British new wave girl down pat - coolness tempered with fragility. Besides her, Jukeboxer is mainly Noah Wall - a technical master of keyed (and other) instruments made by Japanese people. His deft way with a little black box comes through strongest in the production he does for his songs at his home studio in Brooklyn. Listen to In The Foodchain on headphones and be transported through a plush motherboard of the mind.
Jukeboxer's new album ebbs and flows in dramatic surges, fully realized pop gems emerging here and there from a gauzy ether. If you allow this record the time it takes to listen to all the way through just once, it is wuite likely to become one of your favorite movies.
Understood? Jukeboxer is the ideal tuneful utterance of a music geek who came of age in the record-collecting obsessed American 1990's. Feed rare psych and folk sides, dusty Chrome and New Order records and the entire Matador Records classics canon into a Jukebox and what do you get? In The Foodchain.