It would be fair to say Scroobius Pip is not a name I ever expected to write on this website. However, from the wondrously bearded rapper-poet’s new Speech Development label comes man of mystery Jackamo Brown with his curiously titled debut album. Of sorts.
For Oh No, The Drift of the World is an odd beast. Consisting of two 17-to 18-minute parts, each containing several short songs, it is billed as “an anti-shuffle record”, designed to be listened to in one sitting. And it indeed rewards, in the manner of Josh T Pearson’s stunning Last of the Country Gentlemen, those who will take the time to sit and listen to the whole piece, possibly with a glass in hand, and soak up the nuances of a hushed and intimate collection. (As an aside, it is of course now on my “portable listening device” and will one day crop up during a shuffle, almost certainly while I’m out running, and really annoy me. Which I’m entirely comfortable with, because it’s very good.)
Brown cites Bert Jansch and Arthur Lee among his main influences and includes a cover of the latter’s ‘Five String Serenade’ – previously covered by Mazzy Star and Hope Sandoval, among others – among Part One of the album, immediately following single (yes, there’s a single!) ‘When She Comes’. A seemingly self-title effort takes us to half-time, with a crash of the waves which, along with some seagulls, provide ambient segues between the songs.
Part Two deals largely with lost love, with one song seemingly called ‘Hey Love’ asking where and why his love went and other lyrics including “when I go don’t look for me, I’m never coming home” and “you’re not the one I thought you’d be, I’m half the man I need to be”, making it little wonder that “all that I love sees only the darkness in me”.
But what of that “man of mystery” label I mentioned earlier? Well, Brown refuses to ever perform live (having done so on two occasions, “to be sure I was not just rationalising a fear of performing live”) and, until Speech Development’s approach, the philosophy post-graduate had no plans to release these songs or make a living out of music. Or at all. We should be glad Mr Pip persuaded him otherwise.
Words: Tom White