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Andy Jackson - Signal to Noise CD (album) cover


Andy Jackson

Psychedelic/Space Rock

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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars If fans were disappointed or not with Pink Floyd's The Endless River, well it turns out that long-time and still current PF engineer and knob twirler Andy Jackson has a little surprise for you! The album is called "Signal to Noise" and please be prepared for a scarce sonic ride that will shock your senses in the most interstellar way possible, a strange brew of classic 60s psychedelic and modern accoutrements.

Murky, atmospheric and loaded with those peculiar monotone vocals that made the Flying Pig such a draw, the opaque electronics are marshaled by a thrilling bass that is very much in Waters' style, thick and meaty. Truth is this recording is not as overtly Floydian than some other bands out there, as Jackson gives the music some serious edgy qualities which the recent Gilmour-led band has long ago abandoned to more silky meadows. From the menacing pounding of "The Boy in the Forest" that kicks off the album, and the following tracks that seem to bleed into the other, there is a focused sense of mayhem that seeks to exalt and extol the virtues of space-rock, plodding and most ominous indeed. On the vital "One More Push" there is even a little hint of The The (Do you remember "Gravitate to Me"?, yeah, oily Floyd!) as well as some of the other post-punk, goth and psychedelic bands, like The Church, so again this will be an eye and ear opener for those who dare. Because it's a producer album, one might fear an over-polished set-list of a too clever noise factory but the bass-fueled grittiness is simply delirious. Yes there is a tremendous Gilmourian solo on "Spray Paint" but the majority of the tracks retain a veil of smoky gloom that is utterly attractive, with way darker interferences than one would expect, luminous shades loaded with hissing and crackling sounds, glittering distortions and see-saw rhythms. Despondent vocals abound, echoed in soporific film, flavored with marshmallow twinkle and floating purple ponds, as a meddling guitar slices through the obscured clouds.

Though all the tracks are uniformly noncommercial and hence outstanding, the apoplectic "Brownian Motion" takes the proverbial cake, left over icing included, a swerving, monstrous, cacophonous wretch that consumes loads of Bauhaus, The Danse Society and Joy Divison psychosis , layered all over its entrails, coiling, seething and flicking its venomous tongue at all who dare approach.

There is an island in the endless river, a foreboding place shrouded in mist, emitting a highly audible signal to noise. The album packaging and artwork are, as one would expect, enigmatic and thrilling.

4.5 clatter signs

Report this review (#1399226)
Posted Wednesday, April 15, 2015 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars UK composer and musician Andy JACKSON is probably best known for working with Pink Floyd as an engineer for the past 30 odd years, and is also the owner of Tube Mastering, whose services to the music business probably goes without saying. He is also the guitarist in UK band The Eden House. "Signal to Noise" is his first ever solo album, unless you count in his Obvious project from 2001, and was released through UK label Esoteric Recordings in 2014.

The publicity surrounding this album focused on Jackson's connection with Pink Floyd, which is a good focus for a marketing campaign due to the instant name recognition. While such associations may not always succeed, in this case highlighting this association actually does reveal quite a lot about this album as well. This is an artist that rather obviously have picked up a thing or two while working with Gilmour and company.

The greater majority of the compositions is of a kind and character that should be instantly recognizable to most anyone with a soft spot for the mid to late 70's period of Pink Floyd's history. The general mood is carefully dark in spirit, with a steady ongoing bassline and unobtrusive drum patterns as the foundation for plucked acoustic or electric guitars, occasional funk-tinged details, gliding guitar solo runs and a liberal amount of soft, textured guitar reverb, supplemented by organ, Mellotron and keyboard textures of various kinds. With a subtle but distinct psychedelic character and occasional insets of cosmic sounds and effects to boot.

When not adding some additional chapters to the list of artists venturing successfully into the realms Pink Floyd created, Jackson opts to explore a gentler variety of psychedelic rock, and one that arguably has more of a late 1960's feel to it. These creations are fairly equal in quality to the rest, and does add a bit of scope and depth to this production as well.

What doesn't work quite as well here are the lead vocals. The more flat and talk-like vocal style isn't one that is at odds with the music explored as such, but it doesn't really add anything to the music either. On a production that is well developed and comes across as of generally high quality, this is the one detail that is a slight negative as far as my taste in music is concerned.

When that is said, this is a delightful album in just about all departments. It is fairly short, clocking in at 40 minutes, but the songs chosen are all quality material. No fillers, no obvious b side tracks added to extend the playtime of the album. It is a well though out album experience through and through, and especially for anyone with an affection for the late 70's era of Pink Floyd. A solid quality album with a certain timeless feel to it.

Report this review (#1531816)
Posted Tuesday, February 23, 2016 | Review Permalink

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