Well Jacco’s caught me out again. When I first came across his music ahead of the Liverpool PsychFest in 2013 I was fairly unimpressed by what I heard that I didn’t have him on my list to see. I caught him quite by mistake while finding myself in the same room as he was performing, ostensibly to buy a drink. At that moment I had my mind completely changed and really got what he was doing to the extent that his first album, ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ became one of my favourite albums of the year.
So it was with considerable anticipation that I sat back to listen to his second album, ‘Hypnophobia’: To say I was underwhelmed would be an understatement. I though it was a rather ordinary re-tread of the first, but this time lacked the sparkle of the debut. Difficult sophomore effort? You bet.
And then…and then…I listened again and it was like the mist cleared from the music. The clouds moved away and out of that shone something that was very bright indeed. I smiled to myself ruefully that I had not remembered the process I went through last time, but the very fact that I hadn’t meant that this was an authentic experience for me.
What is it about Jacco’s music that makes this happen. Reflecting on this I would think that it is because he very much wears his influences on his sleeve, that warm mixture of Syd Barrett bucolic and West Coast baroque psychedelia, both delivered in a quite authentic sixties sort of way. Add to this a sort of timeless pop sensibility and you are left with a mixture that is both complex and uplifting. It is music for a summer’s day, but also for an intense evening listening session, you get the former straight away – the latter takes a bit more time.
As with much of the music that he draws from then, much of Jacco Gardner’s work requires you to scratch the surface to reveal a darkness under the sunshine, the menace that lies below the endless open vistas of his music. This is perhaps where the link to bands such as Broadcast comes (the cover was designed by Broadcast collaborator Julian House), because the ‘heritage’ element of Gardner’s music is underpinned by a much more contemporary approach where fairly traditional arrangements are fragmented to emphasise the broken nature of the album’s psyche.
This is perhaps where Gardner has progressed most since ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’, moving away from his influences into his own space. In doing so he is showing himself to be developing into a unique artist who, like many of the authentic acts who are part of the ‘psych’ scene, are pushing their boundaries outward rather than looking inward to some sort of lost psychedelic world.
I can already see that this album is going to be one of the soundtracks to my summer because, rain or shine, it has something to say.
‘Hypnophobia’ is released on May 4th 2015, and Jacco is touring extensively around Europe this spring, followed by North America in the Summer, and finally a British tour around and appearance at this years Liverpool PsychFest in September. Full tour details available from his website here.
You can find more Psych Insights by Simon Delic here.