Plumbiferous Media

High on Jackson Hill - Immaculate Machine

Apr 26th 2009
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High on Jackson Hill - Immaculate MachineImmaculate Machine
High on Jackson Hill
Score: 54

Immac­u­late Machine has been around since 2003, and has been care­ful to release some­thing each year, whether a full album or the occa­sion­al EP or 7″. This year the release is the full-length High on Jack­son Hill. While it’s not an amaz­ing album, Immac­u­late Machine does show off their abil­i­ty to use their two gui­tars very well. At the same time, they clear­ly show their ten­den­cy towards huge amounts of rep­e­ti­tion, and oth­er devices that fail when used in such heavy excess.

High on Jack­son Hill starts off with a very strong first track that seems to be a mod­ern take on clas­sic rock. Its strong pri­ma­ry gui­tar line (which the oth­er instru­ments fit into very well, while still remain­ing unique) sup­ports the entire track, which in turn let the vocals remain some­what tran­sient, and pleas­ant­ly under­p­re­sent when desir­able. Even though Immac­u­late Machine has a very strong ten­den­cy towards heavy rep­e­ti­tion, “Don’t Build the Bridge” remains entire­ly inter­est­ing though its use of numer­ous dis­tinct sec­tions that con­trast just enough with one another.

“You Destroy­er” is an equal­ly excel­lent track, and it man­ages to remain entire­ly unique, not only when com­pared to the pre­vi­ous tracks, but to the rest of the album. While “Don’t Build the Bridge” focused almost entire­ly on the gui­tar as the pri­ma­ry line, the entire group takes a step back to let the two vocal­ists make a won­der­ful track with excel­lent lyrics: “too many cooks in the kitchen, too many kings on the throne,” and “how can I make it clear / I am not the wreck­ing ball / how can I make you under­stand / you are your own destroy­er.” But while there are a few oth­er very strong tracks in addi­tion to these two, for exam­ple, the relaxed “Blur­ry Days,” and “Pri­ma­ry Colours,” which has very inter­est­ing instru­men­tals, and equal­ly inter­est­ing, if amus­ing vocals, there are many, many mediocre or worse tracks on High on Jack­son Hill

While at some points the vocals are melod­ic and well-pitched, they occa­sion­al­ly slip into less musi­cal vari­eties, such as the shriek­ing on “Pri­ma­ry Colours” and the falset­to cries of “hoo-hoo-hoo” on “Neigh­bors Don’t Mind.” How­ev­er, when the vocals work, they’re well-backed by the instru­men­tals, though the often extreme­ly repet­i­tive sounds would often not stand with­out the vocals.

So while the instru­men­tals are usu­al­ly sol­id, they occa­sion­al­ly over­whelm tracks, result­ing in a cer­tain degree of indis­tin­guisha­bil­i­ty. This occurs espe­cial­ly often dur­ing the repet­i­tive sec­tions of tracks, which Immac­u­late Machine is rather prone to includ­ing. This rep­e­ti­tion car­ries over to the lyrics, which, on sev­er­al tracks, degrade into the echo­ing of the same phrase for far too long. While this works on stronger tracks such as “Sound the Alarms,” on tracks with a weak­er lyri­cal premise such as “Thank Me Lat­er,” the rep­e­ti­tion of the title phrase becomes rather overwhelming.

The lyri­cal­ly strong parts of High on Jack­son Hill, such as the open­ing track “Don’t Build the Bridge,” “You Destroy­er,” as well as “I Know It’s Not as Easy,” stand in ample con­trast with tracks which fail to assert them­selves lyri­cal­ly, such as the humor­ous “Only Love You For Your Car,” “Neigh­bors Don’t Mind,” and the amus­ing “He’s a Biter.” These lat­ter tracks are less suc­cess­ful lyri­cal­ly both for the afore­men­tioned issue with rep­e­ti­tion as well as for weak­er under­ly­ing concepts.

While High on Jack­son Hill cer­tain­ly con­tains some strong tracks, it’s blem­ished by a rather large num­ber of mediocre tracks, as well as a few that are even worse. While Immac­u­late Machine dis­plays inspi­ra­tion in some parts of their musi­cal reper­toire, they too often fall back on rep­e­ti­tion or oth­er unsuc­cess­ful musi­cal devices. Over­all, High on Jack­son Hill isn’t a bad album, but it’s not a great album either.

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