It was very early 2014. I recall I’d just been introduced to the wonderful world of Causa Sui and El Paraiso Records, the home of the Danish four-piece which is run by Causa Sui’s Jonas Munk and Jakob Skott. I was still pretty wet behind the ears when it came to what I would find out would be a treasure trove of musical delights, so when the announcement came of the impending release of Jakob Skott’s Amor Fati I wasn’t quite sure what that was. I listened to the title track and put my preorder in. As soon as that album arrived I knew I’d be a fan for life. Skott had a sound all his own. I’ve expressed my admiration for the man and his music time and time again on this site for the past nearly four years, but I don’t think I could ever truly explain how his records have rewired my brain.
There’s the sci fi leanings in the look of the album covers as well as the album titles and song titles, which gives the albums this cosmic, otherworldly feel. Anything sci fi wets my whistle. But of course you can’t be all looks and no brains. Jakob Skott started his solo album career with the heady, analog-drenched synth classic Doppler. It was all warm, bubbly synth that brought to my mind Boards of Canada. But then with Amor Fati he created this synth/drum dual of sorts. A synthetic/organic orgy of man vs machine. Skott is a prolific drummer to begin with. His style is heavily groove-oriented, but not in a Bernard Purdie sort of way. Kind of like Keith Moon, Tony Williams, and Stewart Copeland fused their styles together and added a touch of alien DNA. There’s power, but a hell of a lot of finesse. Skott took his drum skills and combined them with his analog synth patches to create this amazing coming together of synthetic and organic musical storytelling.
His records are really like nothing I’ve ever heard.
You can’t go “Well, Amor Fati reminds me of(insert artist here) with a touch of (insert album here.)” I’m sure Skott was influenced by someone or something in his life which led him to making these amazing records, but I’ll be damned if I can pinpoint them. It’s not often you come across someone building a sound and vibe all their own that feels like a true original. His records are like this mix of spacebo jazz fusion heavily circuited with analog warmth and Isaac Asimov dreams.
In 2014 Skott released both Amor Fati and Taurus Rising, a monolithic one-two punch of groovy spaced-out rhythms and hazy, heady galactic vibes. Then in the spring of 2016 he laid on our ears the excellent All The Colours Of The Dust. This one seemed to bring together all that had come before with a newfound confidence and vision that if it was the last of its kind, mankind could disintegrate into the burnt terra firma knowing they’d heard all they needed to hear.
Ashes to ashes, dust to coloured dust.
Okay, maybe that’s a bit much. You must forgive me, this record came to my ears at a decidedly strange time. I was off work on medical leave healing from back surgery. When I first heard All The Colours Of The Dust I was home on a semi-regular dose of Norco and muscle relaxers in between naps and pots of coffee. Under the influence, Skott’s record felt like a revelation. There was ample cabin fever going on as the kids were all in school and my wife was working. I couldn’t yet venture downstairs or drive so I was stuck upstairs in the living room spinning albums and staring out the window curious about the hole that was healing in my back.
The album opens with the epic “Age Of Isotopes”. It begins in a cacophony of drums and noise before locking into a heavy groove. There’s almost this island vibe as the drums sway along to the woozy synths. In a semi-medicated state this song feels like pushing the boundaries of reality. The song starts to speed up as a storm of chaos builds to a crescendo. The song slows to a point where you think you’re melting into the universe. The song seems to find some resolution as it comes to its conclusion.
This is how you start an album, people.
Before I get all the D.A.R.E. folks and Nancy Reagan “say no to drugs” trolls in an uproar because of the pain meds talk, I was recovering from surgery, okay? Besides, I’m listening to this album right now and its equally mindblowingly-good sober(though, with a lager or two you’ll be in heaven.)
“Face Peradam” sounds like a space jam of epic proportions. Skott lays down some serious drums as the synths bubble and pop with an almost 80s sound. The wavering synths in the background give off a more pop feel, but don’t think this song doesn’t give off heady vibes. It does.
Side B opens with a massive explosion of groove, vibe, and attitude with the excellent “The Variable”. Skott doesn’t like to say he’s a good keyboard player, but man he’s got a knack for creating serious melodies. It’s not about technical skill as much as it is about feel and nuance. Jakob Skott creates aural worlds with the best of the Komische alumni. “The Variable” rides on a musical conversation between drums and synth. It’s a conversation where you may not know what words are being said but the intention of the conversation is well established. Throw some headphones on or you’ll be doing this song and your ears a disservice. The layers of sound make their presence known when wearing some cans on your cabeza. The stereo field comes alive with the drums living in the middle as skronky synth structures waver from left to right.
“Iron Nebula”. Just saying that makes me feel giddy. It’s this heady, sci fi language Skott uses that makes his records so magical. Is this “Nebula” Skott speaks of the dust the album is named after? Who knows. What I can say is that this song has some seriously Afro-Cuban vibes. Not only is there layers of keyboard goodness but Jakob Skott makes this incredible rhythmic track that is part ‘Trio of Doom’ and part “Manteca” with a heady dose of Ice-9 thrown in for good measure. Right here is Skott’s magic in concentrate. Nobody is making this music. Just Jakob Skott. Is it something in the Danish beer? Is the Odense soil filled with galactic minerals? I guess only the Iron Nebula knows for sure.
“All The Colours” closes out the album. Jakob Skott isn’t going to end the album on a laid back note. Seriously dirty space grooves kick in to take us out with a bang. It’s like Electric Miles took a hit of some seriously banging alien weed with Can in 1969 and got lost somewhere between here and the Milky Way. The track slows to a mellow crawl before dissipating into the ether.
So there you have it, my long-winded ode to one of my favorite albums of 2016. Or 2017. Or 1916. Jakob Skott is a one-of-a-kind composer/musician/righteous dude that to my ears has created the spacebo analog synth fusion. Or space jazz synth rock. Improv synth fusion. Whatever you want to name it, just play that shit LOUD.
Throw any of Jakob Skott’s records on and I’ll shake your hand. I’ll buy you a beer. I’ll make you the best damn barbeque chicken pizza you’ve ever had. Though out of all his incredible albums All The Colours Of The Dust holds a very special place in my heart and mind. A place that’s kind of hazy and foggy and tinged with a bit of melancholy for me. It was a soundtrack for being alone and cabin fever and healing. It was a soundtrack to getting on when getting on was a bit painful.
Let’s get our cosmic high on.