A.F. Jones – Wizard of the Puget Sound

A.F. Jones has well over a dozen releases under his own name, in addition to running the Marginal Frequency label. His newest release, A Jurist For Nothing, is available on vinyl and digital via Gertrude Tapes (https://thegertrudetapes.bandcamp.com/album/a-jurist-for-nothing). Here are some words from the label before the review:

“A Jurist For Nothing is a complex, illusory docket of the life experiences of it’s progenitor, AF Jones. Jones is an audio engineer, former submariner, and creator of weapons grade acousmatic listening experiences. His sound collages plasticize into probing questions that seem to hint at dangerous, secret answers. He comes to his sounds via close investigation of the natural world, the guts of electronics, and mundane public spaces. Jones is the architect behind Laminal Audio, a mastering studio in Washington state that appeals to his bent for the archiving and modulation of sound. Laminal Audio’s quality control lends to his carefully curated small batch label Marginal Frequency.

Jones’ own latest release is, to date, the most comprehensive montage of his own tendencies as an artist. A Jurist For Nothing was recorded, composed, performed, and engineered entirely by him, with the exception of one song, which features cello contributions from frequent collaborators Judith Hamann (Argonaut String Quartet, Golden Fur), and Lori Goldston (Nirvana, Earth).”

The overall sound on this album pairs field recordings with guitar (acoustic and electric), electronic devices (test equipment, radios, etc), and pedal steel, forging a dusky celluloid musique concrete feel. All but the final track are instrumental and would be at home on a moody black and white film – big cars and long highways for miles – supported by large guitars with sweeping vibrato bar bends.  

Jones is a master with the soldering iron, mixing board and musical instrument, so the entire process (not including the guest cellos) of creating, shaping and producing this album was done by his hands. It’s easy to make a comparison to Les Paul or Frank Zappa when it comes to an artist being so in control of their output from beginning to end, whether it’s tinkering with an effects box, choosing microphone placement ,or doing post-production work on his recordings. 

The long drones of electric guitar give way to acoustic strumming that mimics the motion and haunting oscillation of the accompanying train field recordings. Later on the acoustic guitar enters the free improvisation realm of Derek Bailey or John Russell and is joined by the electric guitar drones heard earlier with bursts of static like noise. 

The album closes with a cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “Rake.” Jones is joined by Judith Hamann and Lori Goldston on cello. Jones comes to the front with vocals that are clear but with a fitting amount of melancholy and weariness that fits perfectly to what could be an end credit piece. Branching out with vocals, this multifaceted sound wizard has added more layers and surprises to his already rich palette. 

    -Jeff Brown

A Jurist for Nothing from Lana Z Caplan on Vimeo.


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