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Freedom Fighters 

Wednesday, Mar 13 2002

The long-form chaotic improvisation that occurs when these 12 musicians get together may be the most uniform noise of its kind. Or maybe it isn‘t ad-libbed at all -- the careful symmetry makes it suspect. Either way, each turn, stop and hesitation on Liberation is laid out bare, and Jackie-O Motherfucker achieve what the Grateful Dead (live) and Sonic Youth are more famous for: songs that contain whole arcs of emotion and that sound, thrillingly, like nothing else you’ve ever heard.

Each of JOMF‘s albums eclipses the last in quality and experimentation, even though on Liberation, the collective’s seventh full-length, they still try to pull off silly tricks like overused and not-so-trippy-anymore backward voice loops and toy-piano poundings (”Tea Party“). But shake off those few shards of re-enacted psychedelia, and the purity of these compositions remains golden. Strange noises, long drones and patiently unfolding planes of rapture permeate sound space whenever these acid-folk revisionists are let out of their box.

Sounding like the Velvet Underground only in the early phases of each song while they adjust levels and tune strings, JOMF, once up to speed, venture out past pop‘s borders and expand into wordless, reverberating panoramas. Slowly, the 10-minute-plus ”Peace on Earth“ rolls out in rays of cymbals hovering over shimmering vistas of strings and chimes. It’s like Nino Rota, the Dirty Three and the neoclassical Trio Fibonacci all clamoring to be loudest. Sure, some tracks come off languorous at the start, like ”The Pigeon,“ a squeaky then swelling opus built on pattern and delay. But by the time the last gorgeous, messy chords are hanging in the air, the switches have all flipped on.

Jackie-O Motherfucker appears at UCLA‘s Royce Hall, Saturday, March 16.

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