Ideas for songs appear like bats popping out of holes: the story of Jack Adaptor
The 1990s. No-one remembers or how lyricist and singer Paul Frederick met multi-instrumentalist and renaissance man Christopher Cordoba; call it fate, luck or Kismet – whatever, they’ve been starving ever since. United by a common love of Sparklehorse, Scott Walker, Becker and Fagen, Gustav Mahler, Michelangelo Antonioni and Jerry Goldsmith, they embarked on a mission to write the perfect song. However long that might take.
First came Jack Adaptor and its sister album, Road Rail River, two sides of two different coins that explored both breaks and beats and Americana. Guitar and voice were the twin pillars, mainly recorded in Holloway N7 before the gentrification of Islington and environs.
Autobahns, Austrian radio stations and sneaky thieves took up the later years of the first decade of the 21st century, as splitter buses, backing singer romances and late nights on the road with future members of QotSA opened up new pathways to the song.
3rd LP Right Royal was the soundtrack to Frederick’s first (of several) mid-life crises, a 24 song magnum opus of awkward paranoia and guilt nestled on a bed of mystic beats, acoustic delicacies and glacial soundscapes. Sampling Boulez and channelling Todd Rundgren and Clark Gable, the LP remains a true record of a difficult, exhilarating summer. It was released on the duo’s own Supple Pipe imprint, as was The Swimming Pool Lies LP of 2010 which combined the fruits of Cordoba’s forays into solo material, a widening sound palette and further tales of disintegration and big city paranoia recorded in Camberwell and London Fields.
I Saw A Ghost followed in 2012, Andrew Collins’ record of the year. “Last Minute Gifts” and “Burmah Gold” were graced by cool films by John Sadleir. Vibes, Fender Rhodes and flugelhorn stretched the sound-world around Cordoba’s increasingly adventurous guitar innovations.
In 2014 J’Accuse saw JA moving studios to the wilds of Ladbroke Grove, investing more time money into the search for the great song. Cordoba became as interested in pianos, Korgs and technological innovation as he was in guitars. Frederick railed against injustice and loneliness with trademark irony and offbeat humour.
Live shows in Manchester, Minehead, Hoxton and Camden Town show it can still be done with panache. The only contemporary group to play Shiine Weekender and the Gigantic Indie All Dayer.
In 2017 Frederick released the Pop Tarkovsky LP as The April Seven in collaboration with Patrick Fitzgerald of the Kitchens of Distinction.
And throughout this whole period Christpher Cordoba has released four diverse solo instrumental records under his own name: Paternity, The Static and the Swerve, Us Poor Humans and the most recent, 2017's Holigost, a work of art that channels Satie and Purcell in celebrating Henry VIII’s lost ship. He works with even more experimental textures as Azbuilt.