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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Jakko M. Jakszyk

Waves Sweep the Sand

Review by Jason Hillenburg

With the looming debut of a new King Crimson incarnation including Jakko M. Jakszyk on lead vocals and sharing guitar duties with Robert Fripp, the time is right for a review of Jakszyk's stellar solo offerings. Waves Sweep the Sand is a wide-ranging collection that, in Jakszyk's words, "... are related to, or intended for, an album that became The Bruised Romantic Glee Club.” Releases of this ilk often promise the faithful much but end up being little more than a hodgepodge of outtakes and studio trivia ultimately illuminating nothing about the artist or their process. Jakszyk's album, however, can stand alone as a valuable work in its own right, but also as an ample reward for admirers and fans of The Bruised Romantic Glee Club.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Scarecrows

Many of the songs on the album are evocative soundscapes and the album's opener, "Scarecrows,” ranks among the best. It clearly shares the same sonic space as the songs on The Bruised Romantic Glee Club and an uncluttered production approach that allows each instrument space to breathe while mixing them together into a coherent, compelling form. The powerfully melodic lift in this brief piece will linger in the memory.

Alien Lights in Iberian Skies
The fleet rhythms of "Alien Lights in Iberian Skies" provide the foundation for subtle, remarkably textured guitar work. It is a sort of exercise in melody by insinuation - the layering of effects, beginning with the stark opening percussion, increasingly takes on discernible shape and movement as the other instruments join. It is a superb composition, stylish and imminently tasteful.
Catley's Reprise
Improbably inspired by legendary experimental band and Jakszyk favorite Henry Cow, this is a brief, shimmering acoustic instrumental that displays Jakszyk's formidable playing.
London Bridge
Jakszyk astounds with "London Bridge," a brilliant cover of a relatively obscure Bread tune. An appealing pop edge to his vocals allows him virtually unlimited freedom in conveying emotion to the listener. Despite the relatively downbeat lyrical content, Jakszyk delivers each line with wonderfully inviting intimacy. Musically, Jakszyk seems to be reaching for a sort of Beatlesque symphonic grandeur, but despite using a battery of instruments to conjure this swirl of sound, the proceedings never overwhelm the listener with clutter. This is outstanding work. This segues directly into the next number.
David Gates in Whitley Bay
This is a brief coda Jakszyk has appended to the song revisiting the circumstances behind how he heard the Bread song for the first time. Even this short composition demonstrates how much Jakszyk, as a composer, is capable of accomplishing in a small space.
Suburban Windows
Here is another instrumental anchored by hypnotic piano playing. It is very brief, but its dense, swirling sound and idiosyncratic approach make it a memorable interlude.
Christmas in Krakow
Jakszyk's guitar work returns in "Christmas in Krakow" with more of his evocative textures. His piercing, distinctive vibrato and warm sound are a perfect counterpoint for the subtle, but stirring, percussion. It is an atmospheric dialogue of sorts with guitar, drums, and piano that never loses its way or overstays its welcome.
Waves Sweep the Sand
The title track opens with sparse, understated piano before strings coalesce around its sketched out melody. This is another great instrumental interlude despite the brief duration.
Upside Down Again
This is an intense exploration of emotional dislocation distinguished by sharply observed lyrics. Jakszyk's vocal is again a strong vehicle for conveying challenging lyrical material and echoes with palpable confidence in the material. His mastery of dynamics is unquestionable - take note how the music seems to swell occasionally with inklings of aggression and how the bridge helps build magnificent tension for the remainder of the song. Intended for inclusion on The Bruised Romantic Glee Club before a hard drive crash brought about its removal, the song is a wonderful composition.
Barnaby Naan
A jaunty acoustic instrumental replete with handclaps and snapping fingers, this is short, but delightful.
Sunday Morning Enniscrone
Here is another of three related pieces inspired by Jakszyk's experiments with string arrangements. Less clearly classical in origin than the earlier title song, it is a longer, moody piece with some interesting, minimalist guitar work.
September Skies
The third of the aforementioned string-inspired instrumentals, "September Skies" is, by far, the best of the three efforts. The quick running time does not impede Jakszyk's ability to realize an imaginative marriage of classical elements and more conventional rock instrumentation.
Django's Lullaby
A sentimental and touching paean to his son, this avoids cliché through its absolute sincerity. There are, undoubtedly, thousands of songs littering popular music praising the innocent beauty of a young child, but rather than sinking in twee purple emotion, Jakszyk grounds it lyrically but relying on his observational powers. His vocals are another strong suit.
Fragile Little Scars
Here is a small variation on the earlier track, "Suburban Windows.” This is the final of three Zappa inspired pieces originally intended for an aborted band with drummer Gavin Harrison.
Kevin Costner's Golf Course
This one features drumming great and former member of King Crimson and 21st Century Schizoid Band Ian Wallace. There is a great recurring guitar figure running through the song reminiscent of a horn section, but Wallace is the true star here. His tasteful approach keeps the song's repetition from straining the listener's attention.
Theme One
This is written by famed producer Sir George Martin and once served as the closing music nightly on BBC Radio 1. Jakszyk's reworking is a respectful reimaaging of an utterly infectious melody held down by Gavin Harrison's pinpoint drum loop. The highlight of the piece, however, is the energetic sax playing of session man extraordinaire Gary Barnacle.
Slug Death and the Cockroaches Revenge
The closer is a Jakszyk penned instrumental tribute to Henry Cow and opens with a remarkable streak of his guitar playing. Perhaps the young Jakszyk doesn't quite travel the knife-edge of chaos that Henry Cow danced on, but this early piece from Jakszyk shows breathtaking promise. It is a great end to a very openhearted, honest album.
 
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