Paco Jones – Signs and Symbols
The wrong atmosphere can ruin a good album, as much as poor word balloon placement can topple stellar comics. DIY bands get this wrong all the time, making something that should sound like a basement practice session into a perfectly polished CDR that shines just a little too bright for the generic schlock within. Other audio noodlers have been known to reverse the formula, layering in tape hiss where the sheen of an electronic synth will do just nicely. It is this balance in knowing how to create the right atmosphere that Paco Jones excels at, and his newest release, Signs and Symbols, is perfect evidence of this.
Paco’s songwriting and guitar playing preclude the desire to namecheck influences or predecessors. He’s happy enough to wear those happily, wherever they choose to hang themselves on his body of work. But in tracks like “Deep Space” and “Crystal,” new territory is carved out in electronic textures and spacy interludes. Both “And Bess” and “Most Acoustic” find his guitar traversing passages that few choose to tread, and when there are lyrics, like on “Archive,” they are chilling in a way that defies logic or explanation. Here is an artist content to let his muse – and the technology that allows him to follow her – go where ever she pleases, and the results are worth revisiting over and over again.
There are moments that explore the dark side of experimental music, and on tracks like “Michael Caine” and “Siberia” you can almost hear Paco wrestling with his own demons, musical and personal, transubstantiated into soundscapes that evoke a similar response in the listener. But it is in these moments that Paco is most himself, most laid bare for the listener in a way that his other pieces only allow glimpses of. And that is probably the best way to consider Paco’s music. This is an artist laying out for his audience some very personal work, and it comes through the more attention you give it. Isn’t that what all the best art is trying to do, anyway?