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JESSAMINE (Buy CDs by this artist)
Jessamine (Kranky) 1995

The neo-futurist school of drone-rock has produced a goodly number of bands able to make a fine racket, but few with the gumption to buckle down and apply their theorizing to bona fide songs. While now based in Seattle, this quartet initially formed in Galion, Ohio, a college town near the Buckeye state's center, a geographical fact that probably helps explain the decidedly Pere Ubu-styled electronics that bleat at the margins of Jessamine's electro-garage tunes. Anyone prone to involuntary episodes of astral projection should get quite a kick out of the madly oscillating, strobing sounds emitted by Rex Ritter's array of vintage gizmos — not to mention the undulating vocals by Ritter and bassist Dawn Smithson. The dynamic swoops that underscore the memorable melodies of "Ordinary Sleep" and "You Have Ugly Talents, Martha" impart a feel that's not unlike a more assertive version of Stereolab, but Jessamine's emphatically mercurial approach defies easy capture.

[David Sprague]