When it comes to Austin, Texas-based Jezzebeam, there isn’t much information to be found, and thus there isn’t much to tell. This is a one-man project, helmed by one Michael Cockrell and assisted vocally, at least for one track here, by his wife, Desiree. This appears to be a solitary project for a reason, however, with a mood that may be unintentional in sound, away from the melancholic musings of the track titles. Cockrell specifically uses the phrase “semi-spiritual” to describe Jezzebeam, and indeed much of the music on this debut offering is of a mantra-like nature; a full and all-enveloping sound, yet somehow still soft and welcoming with subtle Eastern melodic influences, all of which combine to create a meditative mood with visuals of the desolate Tibetan plateau and the bells and colors that are associated with it because of its Buddhist heritage. It’s peaceful and certainly emotive, with all the vastness that accompanies ethereal music with shoegazing qualities.
Unfortunately a couple tracks come off a little too Alt-rock for my tastes — namely “Past Kills” and “Sun is Mourning” — because of those shoegazing qualities, as important to the music as they may be. They do not, however, interfere with the flow or the enjoyability of the tape as a whole. Still, tracks like “Y Sleep” with its pummeling rhythmic industrial backbone and incredibly thick depressive, ethereal vision are all-together new sounds from a stagnant scene that, interestingly enough, remind one of the reflective, trip-induced atmospheres of Lycia and David Galas. This psychedelic style is mirrored in another track, “Theme for a Wandering Nobody” through dense drones and a distorted vocally rhythmic sample that appears to be unintendedly humorous. Tracks like the opener, “Trimmed Shadows”, exist somewhere between the organic post-rock beauty of Sigur Rós, the lo-fi guitar drone of A Death Cinematic, and the surreal emotive vocal pulse of My Bloody Valentine. I’d even venture to say that there are subtle moments of new darkwave projects like Tropic of Cancer that weave textures into the music.
The most interesting thing about all of this is that I can absolutely see none of these artists being an actual influence on Jezzebeam’s style, but rather associated by coincidence. Cockrell appears to be reaching out for something experimental from his own perspective, and that simple pursuit has gently landed him amongst these hazily lulling atmospheric qualities that often lend themselves to the compositions to create uniquely quaquaversal sound structures. It’s beautiful, but it never quite reaches the height of becoming haunting as most releases in this style attempt as their ultimate goal. In the end, perhaps the visual references that accompany the tape are the best to accurately paint Jezzebeam’s aural portrait, from the inner image of the J-card that eerily brings to memory images of the fading moments of the 1979 film “Stalker” to the front cover that reminds of the non-ethereal yet similarly abstract and youthful take on the American Gothic vision that Jenks Miller and Nicholas Szczepanik unleashed through Chicago’s Small Doses label. Strange, rural, and psychedelic.
A1) Trimmed Shadows
A3) Sun is Mourning
A4) Theme for a Wandering Nobody
B1) Past Kills
B2) Y Sleep
B3) Warm Reign