Tuesday, September 16, 2003


Onion Jack are Daniel and Peter Vincent. They make ether-melting mind music. Their fine, multi-layered EP, 'Country Mile' (Mrs.Vee, VOJCD02, 2003) is quite simply one of the best albums I've heard this year in the principally indie[scribable] category.

The atmospheric title track combines carefully calculated beats, electronic FX, guitar (both electric and acoustic), synth washes and haunting lyrics. A chainsaw buzz coda lays the central theme to rest in a welter of high wire emotion before the declamatory finale.

'Fake Moon Landings', an entirely instrumental piece, is reminiscent of Floyd's 'Echoes', but much more knowing and melodically creative. These guys sure like to modulate on the major-minor. Difficult to say whether the landing is ultimately successful (in purely stratospheric terms), but musically it is sucked up its own vortex. Painful to contemplate, stimulating to listen to.

As it happens I had Jane Bown's retrospective photo shoot from The Observer open on the table when 'In The Country' first came on. Several spins later I'm still convinced that this is what Lennon would have sounded like if he had got into new folk. Deceptively simple. Angular. "She believes that Jerry Springer's real." Not after this, she doesn't.

'One Evening In May' returns to the guitar / electronica soundscape: clouds and clocks. In front of the harmonics lies an enveloping drone, a bass pedal, and a cut glass exit on a sixpence.

There's nothing pedestrian about 'Ordinary Jack' either, though the segue from metallish slowed-down drum'n'bass to a gothic bit of wah guitar isn't entirely unpredictable by now.

Onion Jack are developing an original, thoughtful, compelling musical voice. They intertwine their influences well: industrial rock, nu-trance, indie acoustic and post-prog. 'Country Mile' has a kind of improv spirit too, though it is rather evidently through composed. And they certainly know how to get the most out of a studio.

A duo to watch, without a doubt.

[Onion Jack play the Black Sheep Bar in Croydon on 27 September 2003.]

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