Thursday, 14 March 2013

#60: Jacob's Mouse - The Dot (EP review)

While only being a band for four or five years, Suffolk-based three-piece, Jacob's Mouse left behind a slew of singles, extended plays and albums. Comprised of identical twins Hugo and Jebb Boothby, and singer/drummer Sam Marsh, Jacob's Mouse abrasive lo-fi indie never found the same kind of commercial success as their contemporaries. Now almost 25 years after the release of début EP, the band is reissuing the aforementioned The Dot EP and their début LP, No Fish Shop Parking.

The first track on the EP is 'Sign' and it doesn't take long before the band's trademark abrasive aggression sets in. Marsh's vocals here are nothing but raw; sounding as if they've been coated in something caustic. The ever-present crackle of feedback, when coupled with the vocals, adds to overall aesthetic of the track, making it sound more archaic than it is whilst still upholding the same degree of resonance it had upon release.

'Enterprise' unsurprisingly carries on in a similar vein. Sounding somewhat like The Black Keys playing old Nirvana covers through a busted PA does nothing to mar the bands credibility. The bass rattles at breakneck speed throughout the song and sounds surprisingly clean when compared with that of the crunchy guitar and vocal crackle that perpetuates both song and album.

'Ho-hum' is a particularly 80s tinged affair, and one in which the breakneck speed of The Dot EP takes a breather; at least during the verses. A discordant synth punctuates where the bass doesn't, carrying the song towards inevitable eviscerating choruses. It's in the chorus that this song really makes a name for itself. All the instruments meet in a harmonious cacophony, with Marsh's acid-tinged vocal layer taking no prisoners over the top.

The final track on The Dot is also the longest. Clocking in at just over four minutes 'Microflesh' is also probably the strongest track on the record. A surprisingly melodic synth is again the strongest and most prominent instrument featured, at least for the first half. The instrumentation of the second two minutes sees the song become a swirling sandstorm of a track, slowly eroding whatever it touches. The wall of sound at the end of the song really does it justice, as erratic guitars sweep and soar over feedback and vocal alike.

The best thing about reissues, is an entirely new generation of music fans get to experience records which otherwise might have gone under their radar. Given the fact that The Dot EP and I are effectively the same age, coupled with the relatively obscurity the band operated in, it's hardly surprising that I hadn't heard of Jacob's Mouse before. That said however, if it wasn't for the reissues I wouldn't have had a chance to experience a record that burns at a blistering pace. It's a record that harbours the aggression and the passion of hardcore coupling it with the lofi experimentalism of post-punk and blends them together in an amalgam of brains and brawn; of head and heart. The obvious low production quality might well leave the record open to detractors, but given the fact it was recorded in 1990, I still think it sounds exceptionally fresh, even by today's standards. If you don't check out this EP, you're missing out on something truly special.