Asthmatic Kitty Records is pleased to announce the signing of Indianapolis-based artist Grampall Jookabox. The label will release his second album, Ropechain on Nov. 4 in conjunction with Joyful Noise Recordings.
Grampall Jookabox, which is the nickname of David “Moose” Adamson, sounds like a child slurring the words “Grandpa Jukebox,” implying filial connection with an archaic musical object. Either that or the intoxicated pronunciation of a strange blues artist’s nom de plume.
When David was in grade school, his uncle took note of his developing interest in hip-hop and loaned him a four-track. They mixed tracks together and the young Adamson would write rhymes to sing over them, including a double-boombox sequel to Fu-Schnicken’s “What’s Up Doc (Can We Rock?)” called “Suffering Succotash (I Got Whiplash).” At first the beats came from instrumental sides of cassingles, on to presets on his uncle’s drum machine, and then finally from his very own beat machine (a Christmas gift), the Yamaha DD-9.
But that was a long time ago.
Since then, through various incarnations and collaborations with groups such as Archer Avenue and BIGBIGcar, Adamson’s musical interests and excursions have crystallized into a startlingly singular and eclectic songwriting strategy. Jookabox’s debut record, Scientific Cricket, samples a kind of primordial blues sound, children’s sidewalk-chalk rhymes and Appalachian folk. But his latest effort finds him moving into new, unplumbed territories. Ropechain pinwheels kaleidoscopically through old-time spirituals, punk, chain-gang hymnal, deep house, and club music hip-hop, blending these disparate elements into a cohesive and unique synthesis.
More about Ropechain:
Recognizing the presence of a particularly assertive muse, David Adamson canceled 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 Diddy rap video and ancient cosmology; “Black girls walk on the tips of mountains/ Black girls jump into seas like they was fountains / Black girls build skyscrapers with their brains/ Black girls do shit that I can’t explain/ 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.
Ropechain braids holy fear, schizophrenic inspiration, baroque pop-references, and deep, mystical love into a formidable work likely to leave aficionados of avant-rock trapped in an obsessive cycle of listening and re-listening. Get your tickets here.
Sa Sept 6 – Indianapolis, IN – Spin
Mo Sept 8 – Chicago, IL – Hideout
Tu Sept 9 – Dekalb, IL – House Cafe
We Sept 10 – Iowa City, IA – TBA
Th Sept 11 – Grinnell, IA – Gardner Lounge
Sa Sept 13 – Morisson, CO – Monolith Festival
Su Sept 14 – Morisson, CO – Monolith Festival
Tu Sept 16 – Kansas City, MO – Record Bar
We Sept 17 – Columbia, MO – Mojo’s
Th Sept 18 – St. Louis, MO – Billiken Club
Fr Sept 19 – Madison, WI – Forward Music Festival
Sa Sep 20 – Urbana, IL – Pygmalion Music Festival
Su Sep 21 – Bloomington, IN – TBA
Mo Sep 22 – Cincinnati, OH – TBA
Tu Sep 23 – Pittsburgh, PA – Brillobox
We Sep 24 – Washington DC – The Hosiery
Th Sep 25 – Philadelphia, PA – The Green Line
Fr Sep 26 – Brooklyn, NY – Death By Audio
Sa Sep 27 – New York City, NY – Cake Shop
(Asthmatic Kitty / Joyful Noise)
Street Date: Nov. 4, 2008
1. Black Girls
2. Let’s Go Mad Together
4. Old Earth, Wash My Beat
5. The Girl Ain’t Preggers
6. You Will Love My Boom
7. I Will Save Young Michael
8. The One Thing
9. We Know We Might Be Fucked
10. Strike Me Down
11. I’m Absolutely Freaked Out
GRAMPALL JOOKABOX LINKS: