Jack O' the Clock | Repetitions of the Old City I

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Rock: Progressive Rock Folk: Progressive Folk Moods: Type: Lyrical
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Repetitions of the Old City I

by Jack O' the Clock

"Jack of the Clock just seem to go from strength to strength, one of the most original and compelling groups I know playing some amazing compositions that seem to tread effortlessly between Van Dyke Parks and folk music from an as yet unidentified culture, while making all the things you've always thought of as difficult sound as effortless and natural as breathing.” -FRED FRITH
Genre: Rock: Progressive Rock
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  Song Share Time Download
clip
1. I Am so Glad to Meet You
1:39 $1.00
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2. The Old Man and the Table Saw
10:28 $2.00
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3. When the Door Opens, It Opens on Everything
12:09 $2.00
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4. Epistemology / Even Keel
5:44 $1.00
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5. .22, Or Denny Takes One for the Team
6:58 $1.00
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6. Videos of the Dead
7:22 $1.00
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7. Whiteout
2:27 $1.00
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8. Fighting the Doughboy
13:42 $2.00
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9. After the Dive
3:39 $1.00
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
"Jack of the Clock just seem to go from strength to strength, one of the most original and compelling groups I know playing some amazing compositions that seem to tread effortlessly between Van Dyke Parks and folk music from an as yet unidentified culture, while making all the things you've always thought of as difficult sound as effortless and natural as breathing.” -FRED FRITH

“[JOTC] conjure up stirring visions of a hybrid American history, part fact, part poetry, part visionary hallucination...Waitkus generously pours out lyrical images and unexpected turns of phrase that almost cast him as a folk-Americana-rustic reincarnation of Peter Hammill. He outdoes Walt Whitman and Thoreau in his compressed and multi-dimensional layerings, superimposing stories, memories, and fleeting dialogue on top of each other in each compacted song...elaborate chord changes, swoon-worthy layers of vocal harmonies....creaky and clunky percussion that recalls the “bone machine” of Tom Waits...and melodies [that] weave their way around your head like creepers in a tree...”-ED PINSENT, THE SOUND PROJECTOR

“Jack O’ the Clock presents a fine lesson on what it means to write songs that are at once approachable and human while simultaneously being incredibly profound in terms of timbre, depth of emotion, and harmonic complexity. A brilliant and courageous work of American folk served over a strange backdrop...” -MATT DI GIORDANO, PROGULATOR

“...warming music for the soul that can still be amazingly cold and remote. It makes for a wonderful contradiction, as sounds and ideas whizz past at dizzying speed, waiting patiently for the next mind snagging hook to pick you up, twirl you round and place you once more in a discordant feast of challengingly intricate constructs.” - STEVEN REID, SEA OF TRANQUILLITY

***

JACK O' THE CLOCK is a songwriting band with roots in experimental chamber music, American folk, and progressive rock. The songs, at once dreamlike and grounded, are embodiments of the small, magisterial, inane, inspired, and pedestrian voices of everyday people and staticky news reports filtered through a string of sleepless nights. Your weird neighbors and relatives squawking back at you at 5AM.

The group was formed in Oakland, California in the summer of 2007 when Damon Waitkus and Nicci Reisnour, who had both been composition students at Mills College, discovered a mutual interest in alloying folk-inspired songwriting with a composerly approach to instrumentation and arrangement. Beginning as an acoustic trio with Waitkus on guitar, hammer dulcimer, and voice, Reisnour playing harp, wine glasses, and melodica, and Emily Packard playing violins and banjo, Jack O' The Clock were soon joined by percussionist Jordan Glenn and began performing around the Bay Area in early 2008. In the summer of that year, Reisnour left and the remaining trio recruited Jason Hoopes on bass and Kate McLoughlin on bassoon, voice, and flute. The expanded ensemble enabled Jack O’ The Clock to diversify its sound dramatically, incorporating elements of progressive rock, free jazz, minimalism, and other influences that appeared as new material developed. The group’s recordings go beyond their live sound to incorporate bits of on-location percussion and field recordings, as well as numerous guests drawn from the Bay Area’s rich community of musicians.

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Reviews


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Lenny Tremmel

Adventures Close to Home
Repetitions of the Old City 1 is the fifth album overall (sixth if you count the free covers album, Outsider Songs) of Damon Waitkus' brilliant outfit, Jack O’ the Clock. I am quite fond of their previous three albums, but I recall them each requiring several listens to unpack. This one is by far the most immediate of the bunch with a very live feel to the arrangements, which is not to suggest the material is any simpler or less subtle than on previous albums.

When I first heard Jack O’ the Clock some years back, I thought of them as a west coast corollary to the stretched, adapted Americana of the Providence scene bands such as The Eyesores or Beat Circus. One might also have been put in mind of the witty sophistication of Brian Woodbury, or even Van Dyke Parks. I’m not sure any of those comparisons hold up any longer, if indeed they ever did. Waitkus’ compositional style and impressionistic, slice of life lyrics aren’t really like those of any other songwriter of which I’m aware, and the band has a muscularity mostly absent from the above artists’ work.

No one has ever described children playing baseball the way Waitkus does on .22, or Denny Takes One for the Team, whose seven minute span covers about 30 seconds of elapsed time with an additional descriptive moment a few days later serving as a sort of epilogue. It has the feel of a true story, in the same way that Czech author Bohumil Hrabal’s concentrated picaresques give one the impression not of having been thought up so much as sifted from the soil, and as with Hrabal a light hearted romp may give way to unexpected tragedy.

When the Door Opens It Opens on Everything seems to be a sort of dream journey to a childhood home, experiencing, or re-experiencing, moments from the life and death of one’s father. An opening guitar figure that would have been at home on a Bert Jansch album gives way to an ostinato and some darting Stormy Six-ish contrapuntal lines, then shifts into a country funk backbeat of the sort The Band were geniuses at creating, out of which comes a stretched hoedown violin, Dave Swarbrick by way of Irvine Arditti; and that's just the first few minutes.

Fred Frith adds some highly evocative guitar to Videos of the Dead, which seems to have something to do with watching silent comedy and slyly plays off of recurring imagery related to lab mice.

Trumpeter Darren Johnston and trombonist Andrew Strain guest on Fighting the Doughboy, the longest and most epic track. The story here is of a physical altercation as archetypal myth, depicted in second person with insight worthy of a Roland Barthes essay on wrestling.

Waitkus turns in some fine guitar and hammered dulcimer work, and his singing has never been better. This album has Emily Packard's violin foregrounded, and her prominence pushes the band slightly towards Cosa Brava territory, though it must be said I can’t see Frith writing tunes bearing any resemblance to these. The increasingly ubiquitous rhythm tandem of Jason Hoopes and Jordan Glenn effortlessly negotiate the most serpentine rhythms and dynamic shifts. Hoopes can really make the Warwick bass guitar sing, and Glenn’s way of being propulsive with an economy of means, his intricate cymbal work and careful attention to timbre, reminds me of the pre-accident Robert Wyatt, even down to what sounds to my ear like the flattened snare sound that Wyatt favored. These and the not yet released companion album are the band's last recordings with bassoonist, Kate McLoughlin, the star of 2015’s Lindsay Cooper tribute concert at Mills. She added an unique voice to the band and will be missed.

For my money this is among a handful of the best releases of 2016, and comes highly recommended.
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Eric Kampman

JOC Continues to Astonish
Best release yet. I'm personally very fond of their avant-garde tendencies; however, this is their most accessible album to date, Don't get me wrong -- there's enough interesting tonality, time signature innovation, and emotional climaxes to satisfy this prog-head, but Waitkus continues to prove that his compositional talents can tickle the ear, engage the mind, and touch the heart.
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Joe Brizzolara

Best Batch Yet
Continually innovative, unique, immaculately recorded, exquisitely performed new music that rewards each ten with surprise and discovery. For those of us who seek out music that not only sounds like nothing heard before, but is also actually engaging and fun to listen to. The musicianship, virtuosic interplay among the band and lyrical storytelling are all outstanding {e.g., track #2, "The Old Man and the Table Saw"). The tunes on this album have clearly been refined and burnished over time through repeated performance and iterative studio work, resulting in a deeply layered, intricately textured delight.
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Luminous Newts

Unique gem of art-folk/newgrass/prog/avante
Jack o' the Clock has an amazing way of combining sophisticated composition with strong rhythmic and melodic appeal. It's complex and surprising, yet kinesthetically satisfying - dare I say danceable even, in a newgrassy way - and not without emotional depth as well, in terms of lyrics that have heart and soul as well as intellect. Very hard to categorize this music, which may explain why greater numbers of discerning listeners haven't discovered it yet. This is their 5th or 6th album, and as good as anything they've done. Highly recommended.
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