Originally released in 1987 as Jackamo by Annie Anxiety Bandez.
Jackamo is probably one of the best LPs you have never heard, but once within its realm tread lightly and carefully. Here there be monsters. The great American author of weird fiction, HP Lovecraft, once remarked that for a tale of terror to be truly memorable “(a) certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces must be present”. Such outer, unknown forces are at play here. Annie took her own personal fear and pain, and transmuted same into something existential.
This is truly music from the haunted dancehall. ‘Unexplainable dread’ – in both the Edgar Allen Poe and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry sense of this term – runs riot. But what keeps this LP from sliding into the pit of its own dark night of the soul is Annie herself – her pluck, her humor, her graceful facility with the English language and most of all her humanity.
The LP commences with a subtle apocalypse, a sledgehammer wrapped in velvet, a confession, a manifesto, a masterwork. ‘As I Lie in Your Arms’ is a truly amazing song, a sprawling, astonishing amalgam of dub groove and Caligari cabaret. Few tunes have so perfectly captured the horror of that 3am-hour-of-the-wolf-insomnia when the waking nightmares come calling. When the uneasy sleeper is suddenly aware and starts asking those most horrible of questions: “Am I really happy?’, ‘Was it all worth it?” and “What have I done?”.
Against Wimbish’s gently insistent/life-support bass line, Noah’s clattering percussion and the ghostly, elegant piano melody of Yamamoto, Annie intones this – what? Monologue? Colloquy? A ‘sugary soliloquy of lust’? She lays in the arms of her lover and can lie no longer. A gorgeous litany of dislocated disappointment pours forth. The aching, ragged beauty of Annie’s vocals are surpassed only by the brutal/gorgeous precision of her words. “As anxious night turns to endless day and nightmares turn to daydreams, we will crawl across the floor and laugh at all the splinters”.
Meanwhile Sherwood drapes the whole proceedings in a groovy/ghostly dub shroud. The rest of the album could have been blank and the LP would have still been a major work just for this track alone.
But the remainder of Jackamo is anything but blank and/or filler. One has barely a moment to recover from the quiet devastation of the first song before the vicious, jittery assault of the second. ‘Bastinado’ is a form of torture that consists of beating the soles of a prisoner’s feet. In Annie’s skilled, bloody hands the practice becomes an emblem for the rampant violence of the modern world, which she lays out in a laundry list that is both hideous and blackly hilarious.
‘Chasing the Dragon Down Broadway’ is a Harold Pinter-play-bad-trip-tribal-stomp to a blaring soundtrack of Captain Beefhart and Martin Denny. Then the monstrous title track arrives. Quoting Mr. Lovecraft again, the author suggests that the truly ‘weird’ in art commands “a subtle attitude of awed listening, as if for the beating of black wings or the scratching of outside shapes and entities on the known universe‘s utmost rim”. He could have been describing the song Jackamo. It is a beautiful nightmare, a sumptuous, evil, sonic vortex that pulls the listener down into a netherworld of bat squeaks, psychedelic soundscapes and graveyard tablas. Meanwhile, Annie’s rantings echo in the distance, sounding like Judy Garland babbling through some late-night set in a bar full of mugwumps in William Burroughs’ Interzone.
Released to rapturous reviews on the fledgling British indie label One Little Indian, Jackamo should have set the world on its ear. But as luck would have it, another band on One Little Indian happened to release a record at just about the same time as Annie did. The label was utterly blind-sided by the sudden, huge success of the Sugarcubes’ first LP. In the ensuing months, as the label scrambled to deal with its new megastars, other releases on the label – including Jackamo – got lost in the shuffle.
Robert R Conroy
New York City, September 2010
Taken from Robert R Conroy's notes for the insert of this reissue of Jackamo.
The CD is beautifully packaged in a digipack with artwork taken from Little Annie's own paintings and comes with extensive liner notes from Robert R Conroy, which shed light into the events around the recording.
Also available in this series of reissues are Little Annie's Short and Sweet and Soul Possession.
released January 15, 2011
Little Annie: vocals, sound effects
Kishi: keyboards, rhythm tracks and sounds
Doug Wimbish: bass (1,4.6.7,10); guitar (1,10)
Martin Frederix: guitar (22.214.171.124); bass (3.5.9)
Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah: percussion (1,4,7,10)
Ian Hill: accordion and piano (8)
All lyrics by Little Annie. Produced by Kishi Yamamoto (except track 2 by Adrian Sherwood). Mixed by Adrian Sherwood (except tracks 3,5, and 8 by Kishi Yamamoto). Engineered by Derek Birkett. Recorded at Berry Street. Mastered at The Townhouse by Kevin Metcalfe. Remastered by Harvey Birrell at Southern Studios.
Cover painting by LIttle Annie. Reissue design by Paul Jackson: www.othila.com
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