Jacco Gardner

Cabinet of Curiosities

Written by: BV on 24/09/2013 20:19:42

In an industrial area somewhere outside of Amsterdam is a place known as the Shadow Shoppe Studio. This particular studio is the home of a 24-year-old multi-instrumentalist named Jacco Gardner and he seemingly loves the psychedelic studio wizardry of the late 60’s greats like Brian Wilson, Syd Barrett, Love and others like them. At least that’s the overall impression one tends to get from his debut album “Cabinet of Curiosities” which possesses the same kind of grand, hugely psychedelic splendor as any number of the truly great 60’s classics.

With the album opener, “Clear the Air”, there’s really nothing to argue about. The mainly acoustic and string driven track sends many a fond thought towards the heavily influential psych-pop of The Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” album. Fueled by harpsichords, strings and a mellow acoustic guitar, one could argue that a track like this could easily become rather weak or, said in another way, could lack impact. Fortunately so, that is not the case at all as the mix is bountifully supplemented by vast, echoing drums that make up for the otherwise feather-light quality of the remainder of the instruments.

Equally so, “Puppets Dangling” is carried by a somewhat funky bass and some rather jazzy drumming that constantly supports the track and acts as the foundation for the fragile, yet haunting, voice of Jacco Gardner. On this track in particular, there seems to be a rather strong influence stemming from Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett, and his flair for writing playful yet daunting psych-pop tracks. – An impressive feat to be able to channel, but it also leads me to believe that I’m having a hard time really hearing Gardner himself. It is as if most of the album is a façade, a masquerade perhaps that shows off his great love for the 60’s greats whilst never really revealing much of himself. Impressively enough, however, the smooth electric guitar melody of album closer “Lullaby” is as comforting, soothing and chilled as it is invigorating. Aptly titled, “Lullaby” does infuse a certain sense of relaxation bordering on the meditative, but it is those small melodic passages, the intricate curiosities that also keep me, as a listener, on my toes throughout this almost fairytale-like soundscape.

As far as conclusions go, it’s probably safe to say that Jacco Gardner has been an avid disciple of those artists that practically took over the engineering and production duties as well, in order to make full use of the studio-trickery available. Ranging from the use of children’s laughter on the title track, over through the haunting background vocals on many a track, and the daunting layers of harpsichords, organs and synths it is safe to say that he, as with his idols, has created a smooth piece of neo-psychedelic baroque pop and folk which displays his flair for the studio as a playground rather than an office. However, it would really have been beneficial for Gardner to, perhaps, be a bit more introspective and reveal a bit of himself in the songwriting rather than concocting a strange brew out of his many influences. As far as authenticity goes though, the man is on to something and he does showcase massive promise in the writing as well. I’m looking forward to hearing more from him as I assume this is only the beginning.

Download: Cabinet of Curiosities, Puppets Dangling, Clear the Air
For The Fans Of: Syd Barrett, Brian Wilson, Love, Jim James
Listen: Facebook

Release date 11.02.2013
Trouble in Mind Records / Excelsior Recordings

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