Recognizing the presence of a particularly assertive muse, David Adamson cancelled a weekend of shows to sit at home in a dank basement, writing and recording a string of songs that seemed to arise spontaneously. Granting them his full attention, a week of intense composition and arrangement bore Grampall Jookabox’s second album: Ropechain.
After the ominous, trembling, synthetically angelic choral intro on the first track of Ropechain, Jookabox breaks in with a vision that sounds like a bizarre hybrid of a P Diddy rap video and ancient cosmology; “Black girls walk on tips of mountains/ Black girls jump seas like they was fountains…Black girls build skyscrapers with their brains/ Black girls do shit that I can’t explain/ But, Black girl won’t you do it again? / Black girls are built to walk across the seas/ Black girls convince the icecaps to freeze/ A black girl was the mamamama of everyone you see.”
One of Ropechain’s themes is the paranormal. Says Adamson,“I was interested in paranormal experiences, because I guess I was having them or something? I don’t know. Definitely some weird shit was happening.” Listeners may be inclined to agree. On the album’s third cut, “Ghost,” dirge-like vocals evoke Casper keening through an old time radio about the simultaneous omniscience and heartbreaking tunnel-vision of the dead in soft, helium-pitched whispers. Jookabox sings: Your limbs go sweeping through my room at night/ I can see your purple body swell and fall/swell and fall/swell and fall. “Ghost” is followed by a knee-slapping sing-along about a pregnancy scare turned lamentation (“The Girl Ain’t Preggers”). Despite the album’s dizzying musical and thematic eclecticism, there’s a mysterious logic to its arrangement (or perhaps it’s simply a paranoid interpretation of irrational datum).
Madness is another of the album’s unifying thematic threads; “Some of the samples on ‘I’m Absolutely Freaked Out’ were recorded in a vacant insane asylum,” Adamson explains. “I Will Save Young Michael,” Jookabox’s tragically affectionate love-letter to Michael Jackson, ponders the razor-fine boundary between aesthetic illumination and neurotic burnout. On “Let’s Go Mad Together” he sings: Let’s accept madness together / I need a partner in crime / I am too weary to fight it, honey /And it could be a good time.
The idiosyncratic lyricism of the album’s love songs is sure to warm the cockles of listener’s hearts. When echoing vocals ascend after the darkly, bass-heavy intro to “You Will Love My Boom” and Jookabox shouts,” I love you love you/ You know I love you I love you/ I took mushrooms and then proposed to you because I love you love you,” it’s a hard-hearted listener who won’t laugh with joy at the dissonance between the tender lyrics and the dread-heavy distortion of their accompaniment.
Ropechainbraids holy fear, schizophrenic inspiration, baroque pop-references, and deep, mystical love into a formidable work likely to leave aficionados of rock-n-roll trapped in an obsessive cycle of listening and re-listening. Get your tickets here.