Jacob’s Mouse was a band in the early nineties which stretched creative limits and ventured into unexplored sonic shadows but also escaped the deserved success and recognition less worthy ear friendly bands received. The trio brewed an instinctive and intrusive blend of indie rock, post punk, and various incisions of inciting noise and aural storms, a sound which explored the listener as much as its own corners and boundaries. Now for the first time two of their releases have a digital release, their debut EP The Dot and first album No Fish Shop Parking, and a long overdue treat for noise fans they truly are.
From Bury St Edmunds, the 1988 formed Jacob’s Mouse consisted of identical twin brothers Hugo and Jebb Boothby on guitar and bass respectively, and vocalist/ drummer Sam Marsh. Taking reported influences from the likes of Fugazi, Minor Threat, Big Black, Pixies, and Hüsker Dü, the band released by the vinyl-only The Dot EP through Liverish Records in 1990. The release grabbed critical acclaim and led the way to support slots with the likes of Nirvana, Suede, Th’ Faith Healers, and Manic Street Preachers, as well as enthused support from John Peel and Kurt Cobain. The following year saw the release of No Fish Shop Parking on Blithering Idiot, an imprint label of the band and continued the strong responses and acclamation surrounding the trio. As the nineties bred and flocked to the Brit-pop phenomenon, Jacob’s Mouse was found itself left out of the focus of an indie scene which was drooling over Oasis, Blur, and similar flavoured presences with a seeming tunnel vision. The threesome reacted in their own way by becoming even more experimental and creatively wilful, their following albums I’m Scared in 1993 and Rubber Room of 1995, released via Wiiija Records (home to Cornershop, Therapy? and BiS), testing and pushing their invention and craft to continually unappreciated responses. The year of their third and last album also saw the band call it a day to leave behind a legacy of unique and inspiring releases and songs which now finally have the chance to cast their magnetic sonic incitement once again.
Both releases come through Sturm Und Drang Recordings and make just as impressive an impact as they did first time around. The Dot EP musically is easy to describe though what you consequently imagine barely glances the reality of the sounds created. Like a searing fire of World Domination Enterprises, The Fire Engines, and Hüsker Dü, the five track release teases and taunts whilst creating its own eclectic character and originality. Opening track Signs initially plays with the ear with an inviting sonic groove before vocal squalls assault with abrasive passion. Unveiling up a web of mischievous delicious hooks and addictive discord driven melodies, the song is the strongest persuasion possible ably coaxed deeper into ardour by the wantonness of the basslines.
The following garage punk caustic brawl of Enterprise leads into the mesmeric Hey Dip Sugar with its dub infused charms and exhausting sonic adventure. Both tracks leave passions ablaze whilst Ho-Hum ignites the senses with insidious repetition lyrically and sonically for a full capture of the imagination and a grazing of their sensibilities. Closing on Microflesh with its blistered atmospheric radiance and gloriously acidic melodies, The Dot was and is an irresistible and deeply compelling introduction to the band and it is no surprise that the releases garnered such plaudits.
No Fish Shop Parking shows the evolution in the ideas and sound of the band at the time. It still has the essences which made the EP so refreshing but expands to explore and extend the innovative design of the imagination reaped. Opening track Tumbleswan envelopes the ear in a sonic blaze veined with evocative spoken vocals, provocative bass taunts, and more defined melodies than found on the EP. There is a Gang Of Four breath to the track which opens up the attraction further whilst immediately standing as a step forward from their debut release. The following tracks Twist, She Is Dead, and A Place to Go to, entrap the passions further with their distinct stances, the first another Gang Of Four like provocation whilst the other pair search through garage rock seeds to breed their own senses confronting glories.
From the dub blossomed Carfish, a track which has a touch of Ruts about it, the best track not only on the album but arguably one of the best from the band ever sends one into orbit. Caphony is simply sensational, a psychobilly rhythm and simmering tease loaded into a hungry and devilish groove and energy. Though the song predates Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers they are a fair reference with slithers of Screaming Blue Messiahs adding extra spice. Justice and The Vase complete the exceedingly magnificent album with further unique enterprise, the whole release an inspiring sculpted maelstrom of invention and noise.
As more and more noise rock bands emerge you can hear the sounds and inspirations of Jacob’s Mouse within much of their creativity, whether they realise it or not and with this twin release maybe the band will now get the full recognition and awareness it so surely deserves.
The Dot 9/10 No Fish Shop Parking 9/10
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