Jet Black Crayon 

Inaccuracies of the Mind Machine

Certain albums can evoke palpable moods, even if the music is initially unfamiliar. SF's Jet Black Crayon has fashioned an ideal soundtrack for those damp, slightly overcast Bay Area times-of-the-season when days grow shorter and one can almost feel the fog rolling in. This Mission District quartet's latest is another entry in the "postrock" sweepstakes, and JBC prove the concept (rock instrumentation towards nonrockist ends) isn't played out yet. The band even gets some assistance from one of the pros: John Herndon of Tortoise (the Beatles of postrock) contributes some drumming.

Like Tortoise, Jet Black Crayon draws upon dub reggae, minimalism, fusion jazz, old-school prog-rock, and soundtrack music (especially by Ennio Morricone, he of the classic spaghetti Western film scores). But unlike Tortoise and their ilk, JBC uses a rather unique palette, consisting of two bassists, a drummer, and a DJ. Yet there is nothing overly esoteric about JBC's approach -- Inaccuracies is a set of alluringly direct, varied, subtly rhythmic, and unabashedly harmonious mood pieces that never devolve into vague noodling or bland ambient haze.

The opener "The Mentalist" has a Brazil-meets-Jamaica melody borne by melodica, decorated by evocations of West African mbira music and fleet drum 'n' bass/jungle rhythm, and set in a languid, dub-style panorama. The pastoral "The Light Offer" has a graceful, captivating modal melody that'll nestle in your mind's hard drive. And you can visualize the barren, unforgiving desert setting for the final showdown between Charles Bronson and Henry Fonda in Once Upon a Time in the West (or Kill Bill's the Bride and Budd, for younger readers) while humming the brooding, undulating melody of "Tomorrow Was Raining." Inaccuracies of the Mind Machine is a rare entity: enigmatic and strangely familiar, disquieting yet oddly comforting.


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