Jackie-O Motherfucker have carved out a unique space for themselves over the course of the past couple years, releasing a whole slew of actual recordings as well as more live releases than you can shake a stick at. The release that really seemed to put the group on the map was Fig.5 (mainly because it was really the first to have any sort of wide release), and yet just about the time the name of the group really started getting out there, the album went out-of-print and was never repressed.
Now, almost five years after the initial release of the album, ATP Recordings is re-releasing Fig.5 along with the also-excellent Liberation, giving those who still hadn't heard the album a chance to see what all the fuss was about. Hearing the release in retrospect, it's hard not to compare it to other recordings from the group, yet it still holds a lot of weight. It definitely takes more musical leaps than their more recent releases like Wow / The Magick Fire Music and because of that fans of their newer work might not find it quite as listenable.
Part of the charm of the work is just that, though, and despite a much more rough quality than their newer efforts, the group (which was a main core of three for the release) manage to distill about 10 different genres down into one fairly cohesive effort. "Analogue Skillet" opens the release with lo-fi electronics and kitchen sink percussion that surges and gurgles like some sort of evil beast while "Native Einstein" mixes field recordings alongside primitive folk sounds. "Your Cells Are In Motion" lumbers along with a repeated guitar motif while sickly violin cries and the whole thing lurches along like some sort of stripped-down junk-rock version of a Godspeed You Black Emperor (whom the group has toured with) track.
The rest of the album is just as varied, as "Go Down, Old Hannah" brings great vocals from Brooke Crouser in and gives things an Appalachian folk feel while "Beautiful September (We Are Going There)" is another dark track that rumbles with thick guitars. The album epic is the nearly twenty-five minute "Michigan Avenue Social Club," a free jazz, tramp art, sweltering feedback space rock behemoth that almost falls off the rails a couple times but somehow manages to stay upright. The interesting thing is that a good portion of the release has that sort of feel, as if songs could fall to shambles at any time, and it's part of the charm of the release. I'm still a fan of the newer work from the group (simply because it feels a bit more focused), but Fig.5 is still an expansive, unique release.