Jackie-O Motherfucker, the Portland, OR experimental post-rock music group, has accomplished yet another installment of subterranean space-rock recordings with its latest release, Earth Sound System. Tom Greenwood and the collective artists and musicians drawn from the U.S. experimental scene create work inspired by a number of sub-genres and various psychedelic outlets on this album, shying away from the sound of earlier releases since the mid-’90s. This accomplishment has never been a struggle for the group, as the revolving door collection has significantly influenced the style and sound from album to album while the flagship member, Greenwood, steadfastly continues. Any way you look at it, Jackie-O Motherfucker can be seen as the chameleon band of experimentalism, yet lately the group’s albums have become tamer and more minimalist than ever before.


Earth Sound System is structured with actual musical tracks interspersed between organized chaotic electronica. The attempts at the two different approaches to this type of music come off as undecided and incoherent, yet there is merit in the tracks that actually offer stable grounds for musical exploration. One such track is the opener “In The Willows,” as we are welcomed with Greenwood’s familiar and low-tone voice singing mournfully about bitter nights and nostalgic romance. The full effect of the song is derived from the moaning of the synths and bass in the background, not to mention the downtrodden emotional lyrics: “I wish I was a gun, I wish I was a bullet… I’d stop the sun to stay with you”. No matter how you might adapt this message, it definitely speaks to the other lyrical tracks throughout the album.


From here we enter the more experimental tracks on the album with “Raga Joining.” The song channels indirect attention and focus, standing in contrast as a polar opposite from the other songs. The sister track, “Raga Separating,” is by far the longest track on the album, topping off at 9:30. It’s about nine minutes too long, and the distorted drum machine layered with the drone of the broken-sounding synth drags you out of the album’s structure, before you’re thrown in again on the final track “Where We Go.” It reflects a garage rock feel with powerful percussion and a built-in synth effect that picks the energy back up and makes you want to loop back to the first track again.


At times you might find yourself asking “what am I listening to?”, as some tracks are not at all musically inclined. It’s more the collection and samples of sounds sandwiched between the actual “music” on the album; that is to say, the melodic and lyrical tracks versus the galactic sounds and nonsensical beeps.