Concert Review: Jakob – The Tuning Fork June 4, 2021

Monumental music of towering soundscapes and primal energy. Jakob could be three monks who suddenly materialise on stage and proceed to play music which is eternal like the weather.

Somehow, I have managed to have never heard of them before. Tonight, they are out in full force and they are a revelation. Music as Abstract Art. Abstract Art as Music. We are positioned in the middle of two parallel mirrors. And when that happens you are sitting in the realm of the Endless.

They are Jeff Boyle guitars, Maurice Beckett bass and Jason Johnston drums. Formed in 1999 they have put out five albums, including Solace from 2006 which is played in its entirety tonight. I may have been living in some parallel world for a while.

First, we get to experience support act Proteins of Magic. This is Kelly Sherrod and she has definitely just been beamed in. Looking exactly like Spock’s daughter from Star Trek. A female Vulcan with pointy ears, helmet haircut and a body-hugging white top that looks like latex. Very arresting standing behind a synthesiser/ keyboard.

First song which starts with one last drink. We are welcomed to the nightclub of minimalist Electronica.

Next is one which starts with deep bass and drums. Plays a flute and loops it. Piano plays a Folk tune and electronic finger-snaps are added. Take the morning won’t you.

Switchblade and her performance starts to dive off and swim in strange seas. Short breaths give us the beat on a loop. Laurie Anderson style story-telling wrapped in dread and humour. A cinematic atmosphere takes hold as she sings my switchblade with me from overseas/ But it’s heavy.

Sherrod voice sounds trained as in a choir or behind an orchestra. Nice lower tones and the high vocals seem to pierce cleanly like a stiletto.

You hear all this on one where she sings drowning your sorrow into darkness. A pastoral flute. Beautiful high tone singing combined with theatrical mime movements. A Shakespearean Forest of faeries and spells.  

The flute features on her last song, which starts with Eastern European or Baltic sounds and works this up into Jazz phrases. You are in my blood? / I’ve got a twisted mind.

A captivating performer who conveys a lot of drama through arty dance moves. All the while conveying this seemingly Vulcan Dominatrix coldness.

Enthusiastic reaction from the audience who by the end of the set has filled the Tuning Fork. Interesting mix of what looks like computer-gaming Geeks, Boomers, well-dressed Goths and many obviously keen fans. High expectations as the headliners are awaited.

Jakob are on, and they throw the switch with Malachite. Basic guitar rolls and the constant bass throb. The drums pound out a tribal Surf beat. The pace is a slow mantra drone but the guitar gets to boil over as the drums lift off. In a curious way it seems to get its hook from Charley Patton’s Mississippi Boll Weavil from 1927. Indian-American trance ritual.

Pneumonic. There is a slow build-up of pressure like watching storm clouds roll in. The drums come in to signal the switch-up. Guitar rides like Suicide’s Ghost Rider motorcycle. Hypnotic, visceral and cerebral simultaneously. A cathedral of massive tones. There are no discrete notes, more a pressure wave of sound as the guitar breaks away with a solo.

They are described as Post Rock, but specifically they sound Post-Husker Du. They are taking the sonic palette of seminal album Zen Arcade and pushing out music which had little boundary in the first place.

Lonesome. Boyle looks a little mouldy…in that he physically resembles Bob Mould. All the songs start slowly. Nice harmonious melodies briefly appear amidst the machine noise, and sound embryonic as the soundscape expands out. Eventually the drums impose themselves and lead. Riffs and notes become fluid as mass transforms to energy and back again.

There is the spiritual energy of the chant here and a reference point is the Qawwali music of Nusrat Khan.

Oran Mor has dolphin and whale sounds. It’s peaceful till the electrical maelstrom. Amidst the squall, riffs, hooks and melodies are heard. I suspect Hendrix licks are in there.

Safety in Numbers. In a way every song sounds similar. Its tribal, elemental and abstract. After a while you hear melodies at a subconscious level.

Jason from Waikato comes on for Everything All of the Time to play second guitar. I honestly can’t hear the difference. It’s all a blended sound. The bass has hit that gut throb frequency, that resonates through your bone marrow to the nervous system. It feels like healing power.

Songs appear as forms or entities. There is no real start or finish.

Method has Eastern overtones. Well, there are borrowings from The Door’s The End. Feedback hits you in the guts and the legs. I swear I can hear some Michael Bloomfield East-West. Opens out into pure undifferentiated sound.

What a way to end but they come back for extended encores. Cosmic Surf Music with meshed sound from one guitar and the drummer takes it out. Give the drummer some!

A real revelation of a band. They push all the right buttons and take Skronk to the spiritual level.

Rev Orange Peel

NB: Skronk. Coined by Lester Bangs, what is an unholy racket to many is heaven to those who have been experienced. Are You Experienced?

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Chris Zwaagdyk.       

Proteins of Magic