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Jackson & His Computer Band - Smash

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Artist: Jackson & His Computer Band

Album: Smash

Label: Warp

Review date: Oct. 25, 2005

In everyday life, you are usually ostracized for wanton displays of self-indulgence. This should not be a problem for 26-year-old Parisian producer Jackson Fourgeaud as one suspects his relationship to the everyday is far-gone. For the casual listener, however, the issue remains. What exactly can you make of Jackson’s more-ideas-per-second electronic music?

You are there with Fourgeaud for the opening stretch of Smash. “Utopia” stitches together pleasure-spasm, helium-breath diva vocals, hanging them from the song’s humming, light-flare body like a child balancing baubles on the branches of a lit Christmas tree. Fourgeaud loves the heady stomp of glam rock, stringing its glitzy, brash stomp through current single “Rock On” and the hissing neon strobes of “Teen Beat Ocean.”

“Radio Caca” closes the album with pointillist scrawls of convulsive IDM, electrified particles dancing on the head of a bobby pin. The song acts a précis of Fourgeaud’s production technique: cumulative layers of compulsively rendered texture stacked and woven together in fantastical formations. You are continually watching an abstract machine make its way across the room, wondering if it will topple, Tinguely-like, into disrepair. Yet the best songs on Smash make for great pop. Fourgeaud’s stuttering melody lines are fishhooks that pierce deep into your skin.

Jackson’s debut album is not always a success, as Smash’s panoptic detail eventually turns homogeneous. Fourgeaud’s palette appears rich but he reapplies the same lexicon to every teetering structure. When Jackson’s productions work, they are so full of life the music explodes with the very joy of its own construction. However, the great grey patch in the middle of Smash suggests that Fourgeaud may well suffer from the gourmand’s curse: too much of a good thing. (A similar problem befell Akufen’s My Way - perhaps one of this record’s most immediate predecessors, though it works within a different genre.) Fourgeaud is a gifted producer with an enviable eye for detail and an ability to wrench almost profligate pleasure from the seizures of circuitry, but right now, a little Jackson goes a long way.

By Jon Dale

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