Jackson and His Computerband is the pseudonym of Jackson Fourgeaud. This French IDM artist has been cranking out tunes since 1996 and is a smash hit in Europe, performing at various festivals and venues across the continent.
Released this month, Jackson’s newest and second album for Warp Records, Glow, is a mix of electronic genres not crafted into a sound that is uniquely his own but varying with each track depending on his whim. This description may have the ring of a criticism, however, what we get from Glow despite its superficial lack of originality, is quite the opposite.
Jackson showcases his talents with electronic music across a range of tempos, rhythms and beats, with or without vocal tracks. Warp frequently delivers the best and Jackson is part of the label’s excellent roster.
The two opening tracks differ greatly and also set the tone for the pieces to follow. In the first track “Blow,” and later in “Memory,” there is the distinct sound of the early 2000s pop band sensation Pinback. The tracks’ soothing tempo and vocals will lull you into a warm and cozy slumber.
Tracks like “Seal” and “More” remind me of Jackson’s label mate and equally competent IDM musician, Chris Clark. Jackson and Clark have the superb ability to create groovy dance tracks without the annoyance of incredibly loud and overpowering drum and bass. The rhythm, the melody and its variations, as well as the overlapping vocal tracks in these two pieces are exemplary in their innovativeness, providing renewed surprises with each spin and also something for listeners to nod their heads to.
Many of the numbers in Glow take their cue from Battles’s game-changing Mirror (2007), also on Warp. We find this influence in “More,” but it comes out most explicitly in “Dead Living Things.” This tune could not quite find itself on Mirror but could certainly appear on the newest Battles record, the barely audible and electronically saturated singing reminiscent of Nondairy Braxton before his departure. It is no shock then, like the first single “Atlas” from Mirror, “Dead Living Things” is the first official single with a video, from Glow.
The cues from other artists and bands do not stop there. The upbeat “G.I. Jane (Fill Me Up)” could be equally at home on a Daft Punk or Depeche Mode album. When I researched Jackson I was not surprised to find “G.I. Jane” released as a single prior to Glow – the verse/chorus structure should get every listener up to dance. Similarly the quick tempos of “Blood Bust,” “Pump,” and “Arp #1” along with eight-minute closer “Billy,” borrow upon the sound of Toronto’s Holy Fuck, and would not be out of place in a club with a creative DJ.
Two tracks caught me off-guard: the slow (and poorly titled?) “Orgysteria” and the classic-pop inspired “Vista.” The former seems a cross between Imogen Heap’s immensely popular “Hide and Seek (Whatcha Say)” and the relaxed and hallucinogenic sound of Eluvium. The track features a hypnotizing hum and piano which, by the time of the coda, turns into a muffled and fuzzy instrument that should, like “Blow” and “Memory,” leave us with a sense of comfort. On the other hand, “Vista” seems to be a bit of a failure. It attempts to recreate an 80s dance/pop sound and does not do the decade justice. Perhaps for fans of Cyndi Lauper this track would not leave such a sour taste on the musical palette.
Glow is one of the more interesting electronic albums of the last few years, if only for its range. There are at least two tracks here for even the most distinguished of musical tastes. If you are familiar with the Warp Records catalog then add Jackson and His Computer Band to your collection. If you have never listened to the likes of Battles, Squarepusher, Clark, or Jamie Liddell—pick up Jackson and His Computerband anyway. It will not disappoint.