Jakko M. Jakszyk: Waves Sweep the Sand (2009)
It's rare that an album of outtakes and rejected music not only succeeds, but actually hangs together as a cohesive work in its own right. As the only member of 21st Century Schizoid Band (performing late-1960s/early-1970s-era Crimson repertoire) who wasn't a King Crimson alum, Jakko M. Jakszyk not only handled the daunting challenge of Crimson co-founder Robert Fripp's guitar parts, but lead vocals as well. Jakszyk emerged as a confident and compelling leader on The Bruised Romantic Glee Club (Iceni, 2006), a double-disc set filled with autobiographical confessions of a progressive bent, and imaginative tributes to seminal groups from Jakszyk's formative years.
With Bruised now back in print with a remixed title track, the independently released Waves Sweep the Sand collects fifteen original songs and two covers, with Jakszyk's liners positioning the material against Bruised. Familiarity with Bruised may be an advantage, but it's absolutely unnecessary in order to enjoy Waves which, with Jakszyk's careful sequencing, remains a compelling and independent piece of work.
Unlike Bruised's bevy of guests including Porcupine Tree drummer Gavin Harrison, Level 42 bassist Mark King, ex-Hatfield and the North keyboardist Dave Stewart and King Crimson/21stCSB alum Ian MacDonald, Mel CollinsRobert Fripp, evenWaves is largely all Jakszyk, which means everything from guitars and bass to keyboards, programming, vocals, and more. Harrison crops up on a couple tracks, as does recently deceased Crimson drummer Ian Wallace, who released two intriguing albums of King Crimson jazz covers with the Crimson Jazz Trio including King Crimson Songbook Volume Two (Inner Knot/Panegyric, 2009). They provide organic rhythms to the ambling instrumental, "Christmas in Krakow" and knottier funk of "Kevin Costners Golf Course." But even on tracks like "Alien Lights in Iberian Skies," where the percussion is programmed, the music feels surprisingly natural and breathes with the kind of space that normally only comes from a group performance, and is rarely felt on music created by a single player and a multitude of overdubbed layers.
As a guitarist, Jakszyk brings together the best of his many influences, two dominant ones being fusion icon Allan Holdsworth and, of course, Robert Fripp. But Jakszyk's pop sensibilities are stronger than either, and the omission of his cover of Bread's "London Bridge" from Bruisedwhich would have resulted in the only album likely to have ever covered Bread and Henry Cow togetheris rectified here, as Jakszyk makes the song both better than the original and undeniably his own, sonically feeling kith and kin with Bruised's progressive vocal tracks.
Instrumental tracks including a rework of George Martin's "Theme One"made most famous, perhaps, by Van Der Graaf Generator, but here reinvented with a drum loop and countless layers of guitarintersperse with progressive pop like "Upside Down Again" to make Waves Sweep the Sand a second compelling album from an artist who, thirty years later, seems headed for the greater acclaim he's deserved all along. An adjunct to The Bruised Romantic Glee Club? Maybe so; but equally, an album with its own distinctive charm, well deserving of consideration on its own merits.
Track Listing: Scarecrows; Alien Lights in Iberian Skies; Catleys Reprise; London Bridge; David Gates in Whitley Bay; Suburban Windows; Christmas in Krakow; Waves Sweep the Sand; Upside Down Again; Barnaby Naan; Sunday Morning Enniscrone; September Skies; Django Lullaby; Fragile Little Scars; Kevin Costners Golf Course; Theme One; Slug Death and The Cockroaches Revenge.
Personnel: Jakko M. Jakszyk: vocals, all instruments; Gavin Harrison: drums (7), drum loops (16); Ian Wallace: drums (15); Gary Barnacle: saxophones (16).
Record Label: Self Produced
Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock