“I am unafraid to stand naked in the rain,” states long-time Pink Floyd engineer Andy Jackson, which must be roughly the feelings of any behind-the-scenes operator stepping into the spotlight.
Jackson now has 2014’s warmly received Signal To Noise to boost his confidence, and this follow-up shows it’s not just vanity that’s drawing him out of the shadows. The shards of Gilmourian guitar glinting across tracks such as Type 2 Error complement his skilful touch with evocative studio atmospherics. In terms of narrative themes, we build up a head of steam on the odd, Final Cut-style musings of Legends Of Mysterious Apes, complete with lapping waves and animal noises, but it’s the 17-minute Drownings that’s the high-water mark. This he-said-she-said account of a doomed relationship grabs your attention thanks to guest vocalist Anne-Marie Helder. Her appearance adds contrast, because while the rest of the album is strong on atmosphere, Jackson’s voice lacks charisma, which can dampen the songs where a good vocalist could have brought them to life. Once you tune in to his rather droll delivery, though, you find he’s created an intriguing and intoxicating watery world here.