ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA – where according to Jackson Scott, everyone is into being weird and couldn’t care less about anyone else’s weirdness – sounds like the ideal location to mix alternative avant-garde with a touch of musique-concrete. Having established that, what could be worse for a burgeoning new artist than to hit the marketplace and be confused with a porn star of the same name? Jackson Scott doesn’t care. In the 2013 musical glut, it could even help to be viewed as being so multi-faceted and unique. Maybe not.
But unique he is, in as much as he’s achieving his eerie ‘60s psych-ish recordings on four-track cassette, then moving to digital for further manipulation. Hard-cut tape editing techniques and vari-speed effects sound as fresh to me today as ever. He may have achieved much of these through digital editing, but he’s kept the analogue character intact by manipulating the audio in the limited ways a reel-to-reel tape recorder would be capable of reproducing.
The simplicity of even a slight pitch adjustment to the voice can have a profound effect, as it does on ‘Sandy’, Jackson’s ode to Sandy Hook. A fairly straightforward reportage of the events, the high-pitched vocal set against a cheerful ‘60s-style pop dash-off worthy of an Archies cartoon, is downright creepazoid.
Clearly Scott is unafraid to broach areas others might not, and fittingly makes no secret of his Syd Barrett obsession. But there’s an Elliott Smith vibe here also. Neither the fidelity or lyrical skill is as high as Smith’s first outing, but the fully-formed musical ideas are unencumbered by the attempts to be accessible that the clumsy and repetitive hooks of Smith’s debut demonstrated. Scott’s song ‘Tomorrow’ may appear to suffer from repetition of the phrase ‘..Tomorrow’s gonna go away, I know I know..’, but this serves the idea of an experience we’ve all had, of ruminating on a looming task we’d rather avoid, and trying to knock some reassurance into ourselves. So there’s an intellectual level to what Jackson Scott is doing, the presence or lack of which is not necessarily quantifiable in the audio fidelity, which is the case with anyone’s work.
High fidelity is not the point here. This is about interesting musical ideas in their infancy. This is a 20-year-old guy embarking on his musical journey in a climate that not only allows him to expose his greenest strokes to the world, but also to tour Europe and the USA off the back of it. Not bad form when you consider it all started from a four-track cassette deck in a house on Melbourne St, Asheville, North Carolina. PETER KEARNS
Sound = 2.5/5
Music = 3/5