Chris Jack has been a key figure in the global 60s underground for two decades now, with the ultra-fuzz rave ups of his group The Routes becoming the stuff of legend. A Londoner in Japan who has transported himself to the United States, this perpetual wanderer recently halted his chase for volume, allowing a placid calm and mellow self-doubt to linger across his beguiling new solo album ‘Miles To Go’.
A slowly piercing series of meditative cycles, ‘Miles To Go’ presents 10 tracks that channel Galaxie 500’s spider-like minimalism, the warmth of early Low, or even the twilight introspection of the Velvet Underground’s bummed out third album. It’s all fuelled by this desire to communicate, something that allows the opening title track to truly get under your skin.
‘Half A Man’ is a ruminative vignette, while the Autumnal tones that colour ‘Close The Door’ feel positively seasonal. ‘Train Of Thought’ is a wondrous mid-LP sojourn, while ‘The Way It Has To Be’ finds Chris Jack facing up to unwanted elements in his life.
A record about growth and self-knowledge, ‘Miles To Go’ is the sound of the UK born songwriter finally looking in the mirror. Shorn of vintage tropes, it buzzes with minimalist invention, with songs such as ‘Thought’ and ‘Elephant’ betraying a unique kind of delicacy.
Closing with the caustic ‘What’s New’, the album seems to finally escape its ennui, bursting out of repetitive cycles to reclaim old ground with fresh knowledge. It’s a beautiful experience, the inversion of those freakbeat elements to locate something personal, a sense of wisdom hard-worn. Chiming guitars lowered to sub-zero temperatures, ‘Miles To Go’ is Chris Jack at his most allusive, yet curiously also his most direct. One to seek out.
Words: Robin Murray
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