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Jack O' The Clock

Prog Folk

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Jack O' The Clock Night Loops album cover
4.09 | 47 ratings | 2 reviews | 24% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2014

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Ten Fingers (7:40)
2. Bethlehem Watcher (4:35)
3. Tiny Sonographic Heart (1:03)
4. Come Back Tomorrow (6:54)
5. How the Light Is Approached (2:51)
6. Familiar 1: Night Heron over Harrison Square (1:42)
7. Fixture (5:38)
8. Furnace (1:11)
9. Salt Moon (3:17)
10. Down Below (4:31)
11. As Long as the Earth Lasts (6:16)
12. Familiar 2: Barred Owl (2:01)
13. Rehearsing the Long Walk Home (6:31)

Total Time 54:10

Line-up / Musicians

- Damion Waitkus / vocals, piccolo, acoustic & lap steel guitars, dulcimer, keyboards, piano, Pianet, flute, glockenspiel, guzheng, bongos, percussion, field recordings, production & mixing
- Emily Packard / violins
- Kate McLoughlin / vocals, recorder, bassoon
- Jason Hoopes / acoustic & electric basses, vocals
- Jordan Glenn / marimba, vibraphone, glockenspiel, drums, percussion

- Sarah Howe / vocals (8)
- Eli Wise / vocals (11)
- Karl Evangelista / electric guitar (9,10,13)
- Providence Mandolin Orchestra / mandolins (3)
- Art Elliot / pipe organ (2,9)
- Jonathan Russell / bass & Bb clarinets (6,12), birdcalls (9)
- Ivor Holloway / tenor (11) & soprano (6,12) saxophones
- Cory Wright / clarinet & baritone saxophone (11)
- Josh Packard / cello (7)
- Bobby Akash / log drum (7)

Releases information

CD Self-released (2014, US)

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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JACK O' THE CLOCK Night Loops ratings distribution

(47 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(24%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (24%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

JACK O' THE CLOCK Night Loops reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Progulator
4 stars It wasn't even a year ago when I first heard of Jack O' the Clock, a compelling avant-folk ensemble hailing from the East Bay Area in Northern California. At that time I was so impressed as to quote Fred Frith's comments on the band's composer, calling him "extraordinarily courageous" with "some of the freshest and most surprising music." Well, even after such a short time between releases, I must say that Frith's words still hold up, not only in regards to 2013′s All My Friends but also to Jack O' the Clock's latest release as well, their 2014 album Night Loops.

While Night Loops essentially features a similar array of instruments as its predecessor (acoustic guitar, glockenspiel, violin, bassoon, and a pretty much a greedy musician's length Christmas list of other acoustic instruments), at its core the tone of Night Loops is quite different than All My Friends. Where All My Friends was oftentimes an upbeat (but strange) rural folk extravaganza, Night Loops is a weighty head-on dive into the abyss of the human soul. In fact, there are more or less three levels of Night Loops: dark, darker, and darkest. I do not hesitate to say that this an album that oozes despair. Just so that this is not to be mistaken as a criticism, I will clarify that in this case it is a strength. There is absolutely nothing in this album that sounds, false, unauthentic, or to be taken lightly. Night Loops is a meaningful and introspective album whose avant-garde tendencies certainly do not take away from its ability to feel very human.

Right from the start, Night Loops plunges into the aforementioned bleak atmosphere. The album opener, "Ten Fingers" sucks you in with a array of creepy ambient sounds around a percussive motif calling to mind Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. While this piece is dominated by a folky melody on vocals, the instrument arrangements are not what would be expected. Rather than plucky acoustics we get a lot of eerie droning violins. The whole piece is tense and unsettling, and it sets the perfect tone for the rest of the record. Following up after "Ten Fingers" is "Bethlehem Watcher," an interesting track with some tricks up its sleeves. Essentially we get an reverby piccolo over a bit of old style American folk vocals that eventually break into a gritty blues, but what comes afterwards is what really caught my attention: an epic cathedral style organ with that sort of gothic vampire vibe offsetting a bluesy riff. I can imagine this sort of thing being done before, but never quite this cool or unique.

Unique music is pretty much the name of the game throughout the album. Take "Tiny Sonographic Heart," for instance, a fascinating short piece where barely audible tremolo mandolins create an interesting sound akin to what one would imagine with the world on the brink of a storm, where the piano injects unsettling chord changes, and where the lead part is played on a BLADE OF GRASS. Yes, that's right, a blade of grass, and it doesn't sound like a gimmick. It's highly musical and fits in perfectly with this quiet yet tense piece. Then there's "How the Light is Approached," an interesting song featuring loads of dissonant ringing from bundt pans (almost sounding like bells) among a percussive sea of shakers and behind some wild bassoon soloing and unusual vocals which spin all around the mix in the strangest of ways. "Fixture" ended up being one of my personal favorites, a track where mellow percussion permeates an atmosphere of subtle chord shifts, droney instrumentation, and an overall feeling of the foreboding. The vibraphone on this track particularly goes a long ways in darkening the mood up after a really cool, sort of screechy baritone violin solo, but in the end there's lots of cool stuff going on here whether it's the already mentioned vibes and violin, the incredibly eerie solo vocal section over percussion, or the cool marimba part at the end.

There are, of course, a few pieces that ring a bit more 'normal,' but even in these situations the band always maintains its identity firmly. "Come Back Tomorrow" on some level is a conventional acoustic folk guitar piece, but the brutal lyrics and heavy emphasis on dissonant fingerpicking create a bleak musical soundscape during much of the piece despite the fact that it does move towards a lighter ending with a bit more emphasis on rhythm. Similarly, the album closer "Rehearsing the Long Walk Home," reins in the strangeness with its tight focus on the folk guitar and voice. This melancholy acoustic ballad abounds in constant picking and limited chord changes, but what makes the song dark and convincing, however, is the extensive use of ambient electric guitars in the background; swells, slides, crescendos, and soloing all combine to create a dense atmosphere that adds deep melancholy to the piece.

If you were a fan of All My Friends you most certainly need to check out the latest effort by this fantastic Bay Area ensemble. With Night Loops, Damon Waitkus and Jack O' the Clock continue to carve out an impressive niche within the prog, avant-folk, and Rock in Opposition genres.

Review by Mellotron Storm
5 stars I have to say I am totally mesmerized by this album. It's called "Night Loops" and when compared to the previous album "All My Friends" it really does have a much darker vibe to it as the record's title would suggest. I just can't get over the details and ideas here though. Listening to this with headphones on is such a treat with the absolute multitude of various sounds all working together and at other times the feeling of being right there at night somewhere down in the South, it's just one of those albums that transports me to another place. And the story-telling is beyond reproach, so meaningful and well done. While most will point to "All My Friends" as their favourite, for me it's not even close, "Night Loops" is probably the best Folk-styled album I have ever heard.

"Ten Fingers" is one of those tracks where we hear the sounds of the night. It opens with breaking glass, mosquitos and other nature sounds along with percussion and more. Chaotic sounds continue as the almost spoken vocals join in. Love the bass 3 minutes in. Now he's singing and it's still a soundscape full of chaotic sounds until a calm arrives before 4 1/2 minutes. Vocals return as themes are repeated. Amazing track. "Bethlehem Watcher" features the nature sounds from the previous track but it all will disappear as synth-like sounds beat and vocals take over. A change before 2 minutes as a heavier, deeper sound comes in along with deeper vocals. Violin comes in after the vocals stop. Catchy stuff with so much going on. Vocals are back after 3 minutes and I really like the way this ends. "Tiny Sonographic Heart" really made me smile as they actually record someone blowing into a blade of grass like my cousin used to do when i was a kid. What a strange sound that makes. Dark piano lines and more help out, what an interesting piece.

"Come Back Tomorrow" opens with laughter then guitar as vocals join in. A very Folk-like track with cool lyrics. Some beautiful violin in this one as well along with plenty of interesting sounds. "How The Light Is Approached" opens with cymbals and more as these fast paced and repetitive vocal lines kick in. So good! Bass horns and other sounds come and go. Love the vocal arrangements in this one. "Familiar 1: Night Heron Over Harrison Square" is an excellent experimental piece with bass clarinet and other horns and more helping out. "Fixture" opens with percussion, horns, bass and more as reserved vocals arrive after a minute. An eerie vibe to this one comes in after the vocals stop. water sounds, percussion and some inventive violin also join in. Vocals are back after 3 1/2 minutes.

"Furnace" is just over a minute in length and it feels like i'm in the middle of a bomb exploding and it's all in slow motion as the atmosphere hums loudly as whispered words and other experimental sounds are repeated over and over. So freaking cool. "Salt Moon" opens with violin and more and it turns fuller quite quickly with so much going on. A calm arrives then it builds again. Birds are singing oddly enough then back to the violin led section to end it. "Down Below" could be a single as it's a real toe-tapper. Again the lyrics are so meaningful and I like the vocal melodies late. "As Long As The Earth Lasts" is another song that is catchy yet innovative and complex with so much going on. I'm just blown away and my head is spinning with the instrumental work here. It seems to get slightly louder as it goes as the interesting vocal lines continue. The vocals stop 3 1/2 minutes in as a bass horn leads with that complex beat. Violin then takes the spotlight in place of the bass horn. Atmosphere, horns and strings end it.

"Familiar 2: Barred Owl" features atmosphere and a dog howling as bass clarinet and other horns help out. This is all so good. "Rehearsing The Long Walk Home" I must admit reminded me of Steven Wilson and the way he likes to end his albums with a beautiful melancholic track. Man this one is sad. There is a real Western movie feel to this one as solemn vocals join in quickly. There's so much atmosphere after 2 1/2 minutes when the vocals stop. Gulp. Vocals are back a minute later. Whistling before 5 minutes takes over after the vocals have stopped again and this continues to the end.

I really do not like giving out 5 star ratings but my experience with this album not only deserves it but it demands it. If there was ever a recording that had that cinema affect on me this is it. Thankyou Damon and the rest of JACK O' THE CLOCK.

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