Release Date: Sep 3, 2013
Record label: Warp
Genre(s): Electronic, Experimental, Electronica, Pop/Rock
Eight years on from his thrilling debut album Smash, Parisian electro prodigy Jackson Forgeaud looked set for a lingering half-life in Where Are They Now features. Yet suddenly, and without much in the way of pre-release hype, he has finally returned a rejuvenated being. He has a new incarnation of his Computerband that emphasises communication with the audience in live performance, and this belated, frazzled, intense and sometimes overwhelming follow-up album delivers on his promise.
Eight years have passed since Jackson Fourgeaud first assembled his Computerband and released his debut album, Smash, which fizzed away in the dead space between Daft Punk's world domination and Ed Banger's Parisian dance revival. Since then, electronic music has become a global phenomenon. But time has given the French IDM producer the luxury of disappearing into his own psychedelic universe.
Truly a visionary in the electronic world, Parisian IDM artist Jackson Fourgeaud took eight years to follow up his 2005 Jackson & His Computerband debut, and in those years his adventurous side took over, to the point of becoming scattered. Released on Warp, 2013's Glow pools together many French electronic styles, from the house-based EDM of Justice and SebastiAn to the vintage synth pop stylings of Air, and adds several twists along the way. Each song feels unique, starting with the computerized lo-fi of "Blow," which processes vocals through a robotic voice filter, sounding as mutated and trippy as one of Ween's weirdest B-sides, before flipping into a peppy chorus that is as sugary sweet as Shibuya-Kei.
The idea of a guy forming a band of robots or computers to make futuristic electronic music is pretty much as old as electronic music itself. I am not even comfortable calling it a cliché at this point; can we call it post-cliché? Do we now live in a post-cliché era? It doesn’t matter. Who cares? Certainly not Jackson and His Computerband, who are mainly interested in making stomping, synth-heavy electronic music.
It seems like a lifetime since Jackson Fourgeaud aka Jackson and His Computerband was introduced to the world through a haze of blue bubbles. Eight years to be precise, and whilst his existence may have been forgotten by some, then not so the wise men and women at Warp Records HQ who have - seemingly for the thousandth time this year - reached into the past and brought forth fresh offerings. Glow as a whole is an album as confused as it is diverse, playing chronological Twister with one foot in mid-Noughties LOUD NOISES French house, another in the idiosyncratic IDM of his debut, a hand in contemporary stadium dubstep, with a final limb grasping vainly in the direction of Seventies psychedelia.
For roughly eight minutes, Jackson and His Computerband‘s sophomore LP, Glow, glides through the beautiful, but over-saturated, post-dubstep canyon. Although hailing from Paris (there is actually no “band” aside from Jackson Fourgeaud and his electronics) adjacent tracks “Seal” and “Dead Living Things” listen like an amalgam of the best in British indie-dance since 2008: blending creeping basslines, distorted vocals, lullaby instrumental samples, and emotive echoes to form lush dreamscapes. However, during the closing moments of the latter, a wandering piano arrangement and an opaque wall of noise coalesce into sheer brilliance, foreshadowing the complimentary textures that line the release.
In case you forgot, Smash still has jams for days. When Jackson Fourgeaud released his 2005 debut album as Jackson and His Computer Band after years of prodigious singles and hot-stove development, it was a delirious tangle of ideas that just got messier the more you tried to pull it apart. It was an agile mixture of glitch, electro, left-field hip-hop and early French Touch that was less a blend than a collision.