In an age of rapidly shrinking revenues and dying platforms for unsigned and new artists, there's an understandable shift of focus for those attempting to fulfill their musical dreams. After all, everyone needs to put food on the table.
Artists find the lure of the crowd-pleaser difficult to resist. Bands across the world find that cover song they used to close with is the only song anyone seems to want to hear nowadays... so they do another. And another. And soon enough their set is predominantly covers, with the odd original apologetically thrown in.
It's hard to blame them - Money is king, yet doesn't grow on trees. Plus, if money is King, in the musical landscape Nostalgia must have a fairly strong claim to the throne. Edits, Remixes, Covers, and Reissues all easily outstrip sales of new music.
So we could forgive Jackson for toning down their idiosyncracy, smoothing out their edges and delivering their 3rd record as a smooth jazz/funk record with pop stylings. And of course a few covers.
That would, however, be predictable, dull and disappointing to these pages. We love music that sticks to its guns and Jackson shows absolutely no sign of compromising.
I've had a sneak listen to the forthcoming Push Through EP and it's as woozy, highbrow and twisted as its predecessors, only there's a palpable anger underpinning this record. I've heard them likened to Jamiroquai, but I don't hear that. It's got far more in common with Roy Ayers and Gil Scott Heron, for me. We'll no doubt be reviewing the full record on its release, but for now let's focus on the first video from the release - a bristling live action performance of Keep Swimming.
Kicking off with 5 x DMC Champion scratchmaster cum vocalist Asian Hawk (whose voice is perhaps what elicits the Jamiroquai comparisons), Keep Swimming immediately melds some incredibly disaparate sounds. The vocals could just as easily be from an early 90s Mudhoney record. Cuts like an experimental DJ Shadow joint. Beats in 3/4 and mesmeric, loping instrumentatin a la Art Ensemble of Chicago or Pharoah Sanders, plus distorted guitars that could come from an early Tool record... it shouldn't really work, but it's glorious.
Giving a deserved platform to the exceptional performance calibre Jackson have at their disposal, the video, in contrast to its soundtrack, is unfussy and played with a straight bat - simple portraiture of a band at the top of their game.
Get the first two Jackson records here