Review: Jackie-O Motherfucker – Manual of the Bayonet (Feeding Tube, Feb 24)

Close to five years ago now, Jackie-O Motherfucker’s most recent studio record Bloom was among the first fifty or so releases I reviewed for this site. Even then the music of PNW legends had been near and dear to me for some time, and now, despite a lack of any more new material, their influence is still felt in both my own life and the music I listen to. The ramshackle improvisational collective had many peaks throughout their tenure, but that of 1999–2002 (more like a plateau, really), which generated the hallowed trifecta of Fig. 5The Magick Fire Music, and Liberation, is truly one for the books. According to Byron Colley’s liner notes, Manual of the Bayonet “is hopefully just the first volume of archival recordings by this most excellent destructo-unit,” and so, assuming he is more in the know than I, it’s more likely than ever that any gaps in the JOMF oeuvre will be filled in, and richly so.

Interestingly enough, this LP from Feeding Tube not only offers fresh, unheard helpings of the hypnotic drone-folk jams that cemented them as New Weird America legends, but also looks ahead to styles that would be later explored in offshoot projects like Black Magic Disco and Evolutionary Jass Band. It would be hard to overstate the importance of John Flaming’s alto sax playing to the group’s sound at the time (I’m 90% sure it’s him playing it on “Amazing Grace”), and it’s present in spades here. Side B alone is “She Cuts Heart Shapes” is a real burner and an easy new favorite, evoking the irresistible dynamic build of “Black Squirrels” as it surges toward a majestic conclusion, and “Red Slipper Ritual,” well… if you’re already a fan, let’s just say it’ll make you feel extremely validated for that choice. Stuffed with both the catchall eclecticism of a faithful retrospective exhumation and the unified momentum of an album, Manual of the Bayonet is not to be missed.