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LIVE REPORT: Jacco Gardner
Jeremy Allen , February 10th, 2014 07:19

The nascent psychedelic Dutch master takes Jeremy Allen from a former leather factory to astral mansions over the course of his recent Paris show

At the top of a hill in Ménilmontant in eastern Paris stands La Maroquinerie, an old leather factory-cum-underground basement, a dingy but chic joint with a mighty sound system playing host to some of the best new music Europe has to offer night after night. If 2013 represented an insurrection for Dutch-born psychedelicist Jacco Gardner, then 2014 is the year he must seek to become established, and playing La Maroquinerie is a good stepping stone.

He and his band have been working hard. The first album - Cabinet Of Curiosities - only appeared last year, and tonight's headline show (ably supported by Orval Carlos Sibelius from Brittany) sees his band rattle through a full 15-song set with an encore to boot. If it feels like a step up then Jacco - in his trademark trilby and Breton top - is taking it in his stride, or rather taking it sat down at his keyboard generating little motion other than wanly rattling a tambourine against his wrist or stroking a (harpsi)chord or two as he performs.

Not that you can see much through the dense forest of bodies swelling the dancefloor to capacity and towering over the lighting desk with excitable tree-like arms jutting out of the balconies; the crowd are suspiciously tall which makes one wonder if the band have brought a busload of partisan fans from the lowlands. To get a clear view on a night like this, you'd have to have either decalcified your pineal gland or taken a fuckload of hallucinogens in order to see around corners - either of which would be conducive to enjoying Jacco's schtick, which, while nothing entirely new, brings together the best of Syd Barrett, irresistible key changes and kaleidoscopic fruitiness, and the dope bass playing on 'Good Vibrations' in one delicious lysergic soup. Unescorted minor chords descend spiral staircases in labyrinthine mansions, and at times - especially aided by what you can make out of the projections on the back wall - it all gets a little bit Aleister Crowley.

'Clear The Air' - Jacco's summer breakthrough "hit" - is still the best song here, but new offerings show promise, including 'The End Of August', which if I'm not mistaken or reading too much into the title, is the time of year rural types risk the abrasive stab of the farmer's pitchfork to go 'shrooming. The songwriting and the playing are always delicately balanced by this band of beautiful people, and at times you wish for an unholy Ganesh to come rampaging through the calmness to fuck with everyone's chi. This does thankfully arrive in the shape of 'Lullaby' which lulls us all into a sense of false security with its timidity before transmogrifying into a strange and terrifying beast. Through the stormy chaos and atonal tinkering you can maybe make out chanting and harp noises and perhaps some sea mammals mating. It's a song that looks at you through gimlet eyes as it sweats profusely, and you wish that maybe a few more tracks would err into the indulgent world of experimentation. It's a fine display all round, but for this moment alone it was certainly worth the trip.

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