Sunday, September 19, 2004

...classic albums of the 90s...

Jessamine The Long Arm of Coincidence (Kranky) An early masterpiece in this storied label's catalog, The Long Arm of Coincidence is also a pivotal 2LP in Jessamine's short discography. Though quite a few great singles were released and collected on a self-titled 2LP, only three studio albums ever hit the racks. The first self-titled was a lethargic fuzz drenched punk psych dream, falling somewhere between classic, cryptic Krautrock and the shimmering shoegaze of the early and mid 90s. It was mastered too low, so that perfect face-melting/hair frizzing volume seemed perpetually out of reach, but even then Jessamine always had something that set them apart and demanded attention, well three things really: Dawn Smithson's beautiful, laid back funk/shoegaze basslines, Rex Ritter's acid-fried guitar sorcery and Andy Browne's eerie, bubbling synth work, all delivered in a clean, uncluttered mix beneath icy, stoned boy/girl vocals that seduce and sedate. You might never use the words "wall of sound" when describing a Jessamine album, though one occasionally rises in more subdued fashion. Floating, dreamy, creaky, minimal, haunting, addictive, hallucinatory--all more applicable terms. The Long Arm of Coincidence falls somewhere between the lidded space fuzz of the debut and the more jazz funk of their swan song, Don't Stay Too Long, carefully walking the tightrope between the two styles, making it the perfect reason to shut out the world at large, load the hooka and stare at the cracks in the wall upside down for the rest of the day. No one sounds like Jessamine, except for maybe for Fontanelle, but that's another story.

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