June 1994 – EP reviews – Jakko’s ‘Kingdom of Dust’ (“the sort of might-have-been that’ll get ’80s pop-heads sighing”

8 Jun

Jakko: 'Kingdom of Dust'

Jakko: ‘Kingdom of Dust’

This is a quick glimpse at the sort of might-have-been that’ll get ’80s pop-heads sighing. Although it’s been put out under the name of cult songwriter/smart-popper Jakko Jakszyk, ‘Kingdom Of Dust’ was salvaged from his collaboration with ex-Japan characters Jansen, Barbieri and Karn (an attempt at an album, regretfully abandoned due to a lack of space in schedules).

For all of the exploratory excellence of the Rain Tree Crow era that’s informed JBK’s current work, making them a progressive instrumental dream team for the likes of No-Man, didn’t some of you miss the pop glint of the old Japan? ‘Kingdom of Dust’ might be an answer to those particular prayers, as it draws the trio away from their current ambient-world influences to revisit the ’80s. In the process, it coaxes out some of JBK’s most memorable, poppy and immediate post-Japan work. The trio’s moody and textured music, and the precise yet vulnerable preoccupations of the songwriting which Jakko has grafted onto it, lock together as smoothly and silkily as if the four of them had been a band for years.

The outcome is something like Japan’s own ‘Visions of China’ meeting an idealistic Steely Dan, with (a whisper of) Stax strut and (whisper it) the impeccable pop craftsmanship from the peak-period of Jakko’s old employers Level 42. In other words, literate adult pop with more than a sprinkle of luscious art-rock atmosphere, and graced with some cracking tunes as well. Four blasts, then, of “Jakkopan”, in which Jakko’s passionate earnestness gets a enigmatic art-gloss makeover.


 
The Hands of Che Guevara’s foray into prog-soul is a tale of romance, suspicion and sabotage explored over brassy, precisely-pointed keyboard blasts, sinously solid Karn bass, and Jansen’s rotating curves of drumming: like Rain Tree Crow’s Big Wheels in Shanty Town rubbing up against the more energetic moments of ‘Innervisions’. Jakko sings sharply about deception and delivers stinging protesting guitar lines, continually blurring personal interaction with zooming metaphysics and political shadow-game metaphors. “She had a face from memory, I wore a disguise. / She lived the burning questions while I ran out of replies. / I fumbled for safety in an empty box of lies – / she stole the map of all the places I could hide.” On The Judas Kiss the JBK stylings are more muted: it all comes together as frozen mourning and angry grief, coiling feelings wrapped in an icy light. “Next time it comes to this, / the frozen lips of the Judas kiss, I’ll be gone. / Next time it won’t exist, / the bleeding hearts of another twist in my tongue.” A slow, wounded but determined walk away from disappointment.

Pop is the trigger here, and pop is the result. Drowning in My Sleep steals the crisp, spacious rhythms of swingbeat away from rent-a-beat R&B and mixes them with Barbieri’s electronic buzz-sawing and celestial swooshes. Jakko sings nightmares of failed communication – “Drowning in my sleep, every time I try to speak / words go overboard and silence drags me down. / Another dream admits defeat, leaves its wreckage on the reef. / Who wants survivors without language run aground?” – and lets rip with full-throated lyrical guitar. Best of all, there’s a lush but quietly heartbreaking ballad, It’s Only the Moon – a delicate, intimate story of a neglected and suppressed child driven ever-deeper into himself. “No one dared slay the silence with laughter… / Each trace of memory gagged and bound / and left to drown… / In the absence of words I would whisper away to myself / saying prayers for an end, or just simply pretend / to be sleeping. / And the palms of my hands read stranger than fiction.” A slow journey into silence, cool and distant as starlight, with Karn and Jansen’s rhythms whispering past like a late-night train.

Four tracks on which Jakko’s teaming with JBK is fertile, graceful and inspired. A shame that time and fate didn’t allow any more of it, since what there is is marvellous, but at least we have this.

Jakko: ‘Kingdom of Dust’
Resurgence, RESCD101 (5 020522 398329)
CD-only EP
Released:
6th June 1994
Get it from: (2020 update) Best obtained second-hand. A download version was made available by Burning Shed in 2010, featuring the bonus track Fly.
Jakko online:
Homepage Facebook Twitter MySpace Last FM YouTube Deezer Google Play Spotify Instagram Amazon Music
 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Post-Punk Monk

Searching for divinity in records from '78-'85 or so…

Get In Her Ears

Promoting and Supporting Women in Music

The Music Aficionado

Quality articles about the golden age of music

ATTN:Magazine

Not from concentrate.

Xposed Club

improvised/experimental/music

I Quite Like Gigs

Music Reviews, music thoughts and musical wonderings

A jumped-up pantry boy

To say the least, oh truly disappointed

PROOF POSITIVE

A new semi-regular gig in London

We need no swords

Organized sounds. If you like.

:::::::::::: Ekho :::::::::::: Women in Sonic Art

Celebrating the Work of Women within Sonic Art: an expanding archive promoting equality in the sonic field

Ned Raggett Ponders It All

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Headphone Commute

honest words on honest music

Yeah I Know It Sucks

an absurdist review blog

Pop Lifer

Waiting for the gift of sound and vision

Good Music Speaks

A music blog written by Rich Brown

Archived Music Press

Scans from the Melody Maker and N.M.E. circa 1987-1996

OLD SCHOOL RECORD REVIEW

Where You Are Always Wrong

Fragile or Possibly Extinct

Life Outside the Womb

a closer listen

a home for instrumental and experimental music

Bird is the Worm

New Jazz: We Search. We Recommend. You Listen.

Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

eyesplinters

Just another WordPress.com site

FormerConformer

Striving for Difference

%d bloggers like this: