What are Jessamine? Are they psychedelic? Are they a jam band? Are they a moogs vs. guitar band with tendencies to drone and noodle on and about? The answer to all these questions is yes in varying degrees, and although this album came out quite awhile back and the band has since called it quits, there are a lot of elements of their sound that fall right in line with what a lot of post rock bands are still doing today. Released on the excellent indie label of Kranky, the 10-track, nearly 75 minute release drags on for far too long during its second half, but has a few moments that will probably please the post rock/drone fan.
The disc starts off with sort of a "he-said, she-said" 1-2 track combination. While the first track, "Say What You Can" moves along with lazy keyboards (despite some very odd bursts near the end of the track), and bass and guitar lines that rumble with sort of a sinister edge before getting a little meatier during the 'chorus' parts of the song. Singer Rex Ritter moves from a whisper to sort of a forced whisper before the track melts down into the dreamy beginning (including rather ethereal vocals by Dawn Smithson) of "...Or What You Mean."
The group starts cranking out the longer tracks starting with the 10-minute plus "You May Have Forgotten." As one may or may not expect, it's a lot less focused than the first 5 tracks on the disc. As it drifts all over the place, vocalist Smithson goes from breathy, dreamy vocals to ones that sound a little more pointed and dark. With drumming that is fairly subdued, yet flailing and guitars and keyboards fuzzing in and out of the mix, the track feels like much more improvision than anything else (and is, if the album notes are correct). "Polish Countryside" runs nearly the same length and is perhaps the best example of moog-core I've ever heard. With growled vocals and a thick bassline riding alongside chirpy keyboards, it's a strange juxtaposition, and one that simply runs on too long.
After kicking off the cobwebs a little on "Schisandra" (with something that sounds somewhat like a track that Trans Am might do), the group launches into the longest (and it unfortunately feels this way as well) track on the disc with "It's Cold In Space." With an eerie keyboard/guitar combination and female vocals, it's the equivalent of its title, but it simply doesn't go much of anywhere and the dry end of the track feels like it should be the end of the disc. There are two more tracks, and although they work better, the group never quite captures the flair they had at the beginning of the release. If you like lots of noodling and very little structure in your post rock songs, it might be your thing.