The JangleBox

Indie, Noise, Shoegaze… Music

Jacco Gardner: Hypnophobia (Polyvinyl, 2015)


French Cinema

El segundo disco del holandés Jacco Gardner, amén de confirmarlo como una de las promesas (cumplidas) del sonido Psicodélico, nos presenta un trabajo algo más amable que el de su debut, en tanto que nos podemos encontrar en él con trazos cinemáticos a los que Jacco se ha acercado con gusto: Before the dawn, Grey lanes, Hypnophobia, All over… nos dejan la sensación de encontrarnos, por momentos, en una película de culto de los años setenta (a mí esa es la sensación que me deja).
Además de ello, nos encontramos con las clásicas referencias Psicodélicas del tipo Left Banke, Zombies, Syd Barrett e incluso alguna incursión en el Raga vía The Byrds, al Folk más lisérgico o al Kraut
Lo cierto es que Hypnophobya resulta ser un trabajo muy ameno, muy entretenido, muy dentro de los cánones más Pop del nuevo sonido neopsicodélico del que muchas bandas han optado por explorar por terrenos más densos o incluso desviarse por las sendas más comerciales y más ochenteras (sí, me refiero a Tame Impala). Jacco Gardner posee aún esa frecura que le acerca al punto de vista más Pop y más fácilmente reconocible como un músico de canciones. Y de éstas hay muchas en este segundo trabajo.

“Maybe the title of Jacco Gardner’s Hypnophobia finally explains how he’s been able to master so many instruments (he plays everything but drums on his recordings), in addition to putting together a spot-on paisley psych impression: He’s working all those late hours, afraid to sleep. But if that’s the case, the fear doesn’t show through; the Dutch psych popper’s sophomore album is more Wes Andersonian ’60s pastiche than Nightmare on Elm Street terror.
Here, Gardner adds a few more tricks to his already deep toolbox. Tellingly, he reached out to Julian House, an artist known in the music world for working with Stereolab and Broadcast on their packaging, to design the album’s cover. That burbling, twee electro-prog shines on the eight-minute “Before the Dawn”, in which Gardner’s imitative power dips gleefully down into the uncanny valley.
The resonant bass and curtains of glockenspiel weave together into a swirling core on the album’s title track. Throughout, Gardner develops glistening psychedelic tunnels between baroque pop hooks. While the hooks and narrative structures were the greatest strengths of his 2013 debut, Cabinet of Curiosities, they smear considerably on Hypnophobia. The emotionally salient tales sink almost unreachably far down into the glittery psychedelia.
Hypnophobia doesn’t grow much out of the groundwork Gardner’s laid on past releases, and neither does it hide its deeply studied inspirations. But when you sound as natural and masterful in that indebtedness as Gardner does here, it’s hard to deride the homage. Though he pushes deep into that professional retro sound, he’s exploring caves that have very little darkness, and the continued warmth and prettiness loses some of its shine due to the lack of contrast. Hypnophobia is a pleasant listen, but it passes by as quickly as a warm breeze on a spring afternoon” (Consequence of Sound)

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23 octubre, 2015 Posted by | Jacco Gardner | Deja un comentario

Jacco Gardner: Cabinet of Curiosities (Trouble in Mind Records, 2013)

Cabinet of Curiosities cover art

Perlas engarzadas

Escuchando Clear the air, el tema que abre este Cabinet of Curiosities, uno piensa que nos encontramos ante uno de los discos del año. Su enérgico comienzo, su majestuosidad, su homenaje al Pop Barroco hacen de este uno de los mejores sencillos de los últimos tiempos. Tiene algo de los sesenta, de Zombies, de Left Banke, de Love, de The Beach Boys, incluso de Pink Floyd… pero también del Beck de sus mejores tiempos, de aquél que era capaz de aunar el sonido contemporáneo con el clásico de los sesenta sin ningún tipo de rubor.
The one eyed king, el siguiente tema de este Gabinete de Curiosidades, es una preciosa historia de aires folkies y delicada musicalidad. El tono clásico no nos abandona en todo el disco, aunque sí la intensidad y la firmeza de sus temas. En Jenesaispop afirman que “parece un trabajo más centrado en el sonido que en las canciones“. No les falta razón. Cabinet of Curiosities es todo un tratado de cómo recrear un tipo de sonidos, un manual perfecto de orfebrería Pop engarzado casi en solitario por este músico holandés del que pocos datos manejamos. Si los temas del disco hubieran tenido tan sólo un poquito más de cercanía y de ese mimo que nos esperamos de un trabajo de este talante, estaríamos ante un disco de diez. Con todo, su esfuerzo es de notable.
Por cierto, gracias a nuestro ojeador, José Campos, por tenernos siempre al día…


In an industrial area 40 minutes north of Amsterdam lives a 24-year-old multi-instrumentalist with a Brian Jones haircut. Jacco Gardner’s home is called the Shadow Shoppe Studio, and there, he creates music that hearkens back to the studio wizards of the 1960s: Brian Wilson, Van Dyke Parks, Syd Barrett, Curt Boettcher, Love, and so on. There’s no sense of industry, or really, the 21st century in Gardner’s baroque pop, which has a fanciful, sometimes jaunty Lewis Carroll quality to it. Unsurprisingly, he told The Guardianthat he found inspiration in records “where the songwriter or artist also took over the role of producer and could really start experimenting and work out everything they could think of themselves.” With his head stuck in classic albums and with very few collaborators, he spent a couple years creating the universe you hear on his debut solo album, Cabinet of Curiosities.
It’s not just hard to hear a hint of the modern world in Gardner’s music; it’s hard to hear a hint of Gardner in Gardner’s music. Though he’s said in interviews that he wrote some of his songs from a personal place, his lyrics don’t read like personal folk tales or journal fodder. Instead, they’re littered with psychedelic romance and costume drama– “Open up the window to your mind/ So I can look inside and lend a hand,” he sings in “The One Eyed King”. “Sleep when stars are bright,” he coos in “Lullaby”. The title track features harpsichords and laughing babies. Thematically speaking, Cabinet of Curiosities is all facade– these are quaint stories approached with the tools of 1960s psychedelia. In order to pull off this sort of thing in 2013, it’s on Gardner to create a soundscape strong enough to support his own airily fey material. And that’s exactly what he does.
In the Shadow Shoppe, he created arrangements that are diverse and lush, where the most atmospheric elements on the record sound full instead of brittle. Opener “Clear the Air” can pull off harpsichords and featherlight synths because they’re complemented by huge, echoing drums. In the chorus, beneath Gardner’s vocal, you can hear voices lending haunting “ahhs” from each corner of the mix. And right when a song starts to get stale, he also knows exactly when to inject a bold new element. “Summer’s Game” starts off pretty spare, but right when it begins to overstay its welcome around the midpoint, the percussive backbone kicks in and carries the song to the finish. It also helps that Gardner has an ear for melody– his singsong sensibility makes the sweet, sad album closer “The Ballad of Little Jane” an easy highlight.
Sometimes, though, Gardner plays it a bit too straight. “Cabinet of Curiosities”, for example, is a repetitive instrumental that doesn’t do much to add to its already well-established facade. And sometimes the “Mad Hatter universe” feeling turns more into “oppressive carousel music,” as is the case with “The Riddle”. But the biggest danger for Gardner is in the album’s diversity (or lack thereof). On an individual level, these songs can thrive due to their masterful arrangements. But it’s hard to shake an overwhelming feeling of stagnation in the run from “Watching the Moon” to “The Riddle”, which all feature the exact same sort of keyboard work.  
Ultimately, it’s an album that’s a bit on the long side, and for a record that has such firm roots in the 1960s, that’s a tough obstacle to overcome. Overlong albums are one thing, but overlong and sonically derivative albums are usually near unlistenable. But it’s the individual songs that make Cabinet worth the time. “Puppets Dangling” obviously has more of Gardner’s whimsical imagery in its lyrics and title, but it also has some incredible moments. As he transitions into the song’s refrain, he doesn’t ramp up the percussion; he lets loose a barrage of gorgeous, densely packed strings and synths. It’s a beautiful section of one song, and Cabinet of Curiosities has several just like it. The album might exist in the wrong era, but throughout, those moments highlight Gardner’s biggest strength– he’s a studio wizard” (

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7 mayo, 2013 Posted by | Jacco Gardner | 1 comentario


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