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Jasper TX - An Index of Failure

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Artist: Jasper TX

Album: An Index of Failure

Label: Handmade Birds

Review date: Feb. 22, 2013




Any project named after an atrocity that took place 5,000 miles away the musicianís home is bound to have a bit of gloom and distance in it, and so it is with Jasper TX. Swedish multi-instrumentalist Dag Rosenqvist originally named his one-man ambient band after the location of a sadistic, racially motivated murder ó no upbraiding the local Prime Minister slaughterers or neighboring church burners for him. Jasper TX has recorded nine albums and toured a couple continents, but generally stayed far enough under the radar that Rosenqvist has to support himself by other means. This may also contribute to his willingness to retire the moniker; with this album, heís putting the endeavor to bed. His next record should be under his own name.

The terminal status of Jasper TX may contribute to the elegiac quality of An Index Of Failure; the albumís mood begins with wistful sadness and builds to epic tragedy. But it doesnít totally explain it, since the record is compiled from a discard pile of material dating back to 2006. The titular failure refers to each trackís inability to fit into some other record, but it gives little credit to their success at cohering; nothing here feels like an afterthought, and although each piece is distinct, it all hangs together. ďAbandonĒ opens things with slow, pillow-soft electric piano notes, which gradually gain weight but not momentum as Rosenqvist doubles and triples them with electric guitar and synthesizer. The effect is rather like a light-starved variant of late-stage Labradford. ďIn All Your Blinding LightsĒ follows with a blur of wordless voices and acoustic guitars, as murky and once-removed as a mist rolling through the low streets of town, as viewed from the top of a hill. Side one ends a with slower, denser reprise of ďAbandonísĒ approach, applied to different notes but securing a similar effect. Thereís something remote about this music; itís like the person at the back of the bar or coffee shop who is good looking, but gives off a vibe that makes you willing to stand with your drink rather than take a spot at their table. Itís not scary or imposing, just sad in a faraway way.

When you flip the LP over (at time of release, vinyl is the only way to purchase it), take a minute to appreciate the silver vinyl. Thatís as bright as things get. Side two starts with that same ineffable sadness, but gradually marches away from it into something bigger, more dramatic, but no more light-hearted. Its like a one-man distillation of Godspeed You Black Emperor that has kindly given the ranting homeless guys a trip back to the shelter before hitting the record button. This music feels both personal and authentic, and I imagine it makes lots of sense looking out the window during a long Swedish winter night. But if the original impetus for naming Jasper TX was outrage, this music feels a bit too resigned to its own sadness.

By Bill Meyer

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