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Jacco Gardner - Cabinet Of Curiosities - LP -

Price per Unit (stuk): €14.95


In an industrial area 40 minutes north of Amsterdam lives a 24-year-old multi-instrumentalist with a Brian Jones haircut. Jacco Gardner's home is called the Shadow Shoppe Studio, and there, he creates music that hearkens back to the studio wizards of the 1960s: Brian Wilson, Van Dyke Parks, Syd Barrett, Curt Boettcher, Love, and so on. There's no sense of industry, or really, the 21st century in Gardner's baroque pop, which has a fanciful, sometimes jaunty Lewis Carroll quality to it. Unsurprisingly, he told The Guardian that he found inspiration in records "where the songwriter or artist also took over the role of producer and could really start experimenting and work out everything they could think of themselves." With his head stuck in classic albums and with very few collaborators, he spent a couple years creating the universe you hear on his debut solo album, Cabinet of Curiosities.

It's not just hard to hear a hint of the modern world in Gardner's music; it's hard to hear a hint of Gardner in Gardner's music. Though he's said in interviews that he wrote some of his songs from a personal place, his lyrics don't read like personal folk tales or journal fodder. Instead, they're littered with psychedelic romance and costume drama-- "Open up the window to your mind/ So I can look inside and lend a hand," he sings in "The One Eyed King". "Sleep when stars are bright," he coos in "Lullaby". The title track features harpsichords and laughing babies. Thematically speaking, Cabinet of Curiosities is all facade-- these are quaint stories approached with the tools of 1960s psychedelia. In order to pull off this sort of thing in 2013, it's on Gardner to create a soundscape strong enough to support his own airily fey material. And that's exactly what he does.

In the Shadow Shoppe, he created arrangements that are diverse and lush, where the most atmospheric elements on the record sound full instead of brittle. Opener "Clear the Air" can pull off harpsichords and featherlight synths because they're complemented by huge, echoing drums. In the chorus, beneath Gardner's vocal, you can hear voices lending haunting "ahhs" from each corner of the mix. And right when a song starts to get stale, he also knows exactly when to inject a bold new element. "Summer's Game" starts off pretty spare, but right when it begins to overstay its welcome around the midpoint, the percussive backbone kicks in and carries the song to the finish. It also helps that Gardner has an ear for melody-- his singsong sensibility makes the sweet, sad album closer "The Ballad of Little Jane" an easy highlight.

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