It only seems natural that if you engineer Pink Floyd albums that eventually you will release one of your own. Having worked with the Floyd or the Floyd related via solo projects they have done, Andy Jackson has certainly got a lot of influence under his belt to come up with his own ideas and the cover art is very Floydian indeed and perhaps a tribute to Rick Wright who wrote and performed the track Sysyphus on the 1969 Ummagumma Lp as we finally see good ol’ Sys here having a kip on his rock and getting some well needed rest. A passive reminder that we all need to stop now and then and grab a kip from pushing our own rocks up that hill that merely push us back now and then. Brought up with music and a wealth of words it seemed natural for Andy to get in to the recording side of things. With his new album 73 Days at Sea now out which is also awesome and you should have at as well for your Prog Collective we’re gonna have a look at this one, his premiere debut piece, “Signal to Noise“, a seven song album that encompasses all that is Andy and that has becomes his world and little corner in the genre of Prog Rock to which he is most welcome by the Friars of Prog already for his tireless efforts in the studio and on the road.
We open up with “The Boy in the Forest“, the genesis song from Andy and our first listen to this introductory record coming in at just over the seven minute mark. A bright choppy entrance to the song as we hear guitars wind up and swirl about just before the drum roll in to ‘signal’ the song’s commencement. It’s not fast but not too slow and in a very Floydian fashion as the synths create that dreamscape quality to it add in some acoustic work and a mid-range calm vocal to set the mood and ambiance. A nice multi bending guitar solo duet between two different guitars and not just by sound but what is clearly two different styles of guitar here creating a wonderfully layered solo. But aside form the Floydian influencing sound this is absolutely Andy Jackson and no one else here, the song is uniquely his and it’s his sound that has taken flight. Somehow you always end up having snippets of who you admire in your music but always maintain your OWN sound in the process. The diving synth tones wave with a electric ebb and flow of watching an electric ocean of sound here that adds an alluring tone to the song. It maintains its medium pulse and tonality to it giving us a radiant but humble introduction to the album. “One More Push” almost has a very Johnny Clegg rhythm and feel to it that I absolutely love and also love the music of Johnny Clegg. It jives, funks and chorals in a grand scale here as it sways in that head nodding way you do when you just find yourself doing it. The bass line, hypnotic and as the vocals induce you to feel at ease with the groove of the song’s demeanor. Vocally, Andy chops up parts of the lines and croons the other half of it giving it some flare and spice to go along with the jazzy drumming and droning guitar work that is flawless here. “Invisible Colours” saunters in very country twang like and shuffles along with a desert feel to it that has you not gasping for air but watching your gas gauge near empty as you feel the sun beat down on the hood of the car bouncing back up in to your face as you near a desolate town and begin to wonder where you are as you drive past a guy playing a guitar on the side of the road. The subtle delay on this song gives it a very psychedelic induced acid trip to it drawing you back to the amazing Technicolour Dream Show of ’67. The trip just gets better and better as the song progresses along and the slap back delay on the guitar along with a couple of neat little pedals to add effect to awesomeness the song has Hunter S. Thompson written all over it as you cruise the Vegas strip with him.
“Spray Paint” sets the mood with a sombre piano intro and accompanying vocal that keeps us waiting and wondering what will happen next here and in baited breath we sit glued to our speakers listening intently as Andy gives us the carolling dictation. The short sharp burst of a tight guitar solo that reaches upwards to the sky as it peaks through the clouds sails us gently among the birds and cool breeze that cuts through our hair ever so briskly. Add in some more beautiful synthscape tones to this and you have a wonderful piece of music. “Herman at the Fountain” welcomes us to the longest song on the record at just under ten minutes and begins with what sounds like a distant whale song in the ocean depths as the drums snap and beat to a slower pace for the acoustic jangle lightly and allow the whole composition form in to a Prog recipe complete here with sliding guitar notes that come right off the fretboard, synths that have you lost in a dreamworld, drums that aren’t overpowering and concise with the jangling acoustic to bring you full circle to the great wall of sound that this song has evolved in to and the vocals that regale tales from the mouth of the wise man on the mountain you sought out in your journey for the truth, life, universe and everything, (Douglas Adams anyone?). With this album Andy is consistent with his tones and knows his own barriers and stretches them yet never breaks them as he swirls wonders about within his walls of sound and musicianship. Often one doesn’t need to play at a 100mph to get one’s point across and yet you don’t have to stand still either! Here we have a stroll of sound that accentuates what is being said here, Prog and some great psychedelic inflections as well as we see colours and words go by while listening to this song. Thank You for that Andy : )
“It All Came Crashing Down” drops an eerie beginning on us with the feeling of walking up from the battlefield after a bloody siege looking at the remains of the field and the carnage left behind. The distant sound of pounding drumming in the background like the tempo keeper on the ship with slaves rowing in the dark Middle Ages as the snarky acoustic guitar notes gnarl their way through the air and cuts the tension in the room you’re sitting in listening to this. Chords of sweet refrain come through at the halfway point where the drums start up with a brighter tone and tempo as the song begins a sweep up to move on and go forth that finishes off with the album’s title being sung as we hear the strained sound of metal scraping on metal to fade away. Our final song on the album, “Brownian Motion” has another great Andy Jackson drag to it as it gives us film noir, sleezy guitar riffs and sultry drumming as the bass walks through nonchalantly that throws in a vocal with a flange effect on it adding to the atmosphere of dark streets at night in the rain. Drop downs of heavier notes snap like thunder upon our heads as the song moves forwards in to the night and we’re cold and alone as we walk down strange yet familiar streets with the rain continuing to fall. Halfway we shift gears and change the timbre for a few bars making it stranger on our ears then back to the sultriness of the song’s groove. Synths and guitars take over to wail and cry for us as we journey in to the night down our beaten paths. The build up of instrumentation gives us hope of light but we’re drawn back in to the darkness and still made to walk alone as the song pulls back to its patterns and passages of sombre sultry swaying. Swirling guitar notes and a final send off to fading away leaves us holding the back wanting more from Andy Jackson because we haven’t finished our journey in to his music even though he has for now until we get in to his next album later on in future blogs. I will do the Prog thing to do and leave you with the first song on the album as the last song you listen to here!
This is an awesome album as a first offering from Andy and his second album is equally as great and you would be silly not to add this one to your Prog Collective as the Friars of Prog smile brightly and happily upon this album and Andy as well for the many albums and live shows in the genre he has worked on. Here’s to hoping that Andy will release more albums as time allows him to between his other projects and studio work with other bands because his music is really enjoyable and I think you will agree even if you aren’t as heavily in to Prog as I am ! Enjoy