Anchorage-based musician Paul Jacks spends his time surviving both frigid temperatures and the company of active volcanoes. His hometown is a beautiful but occasionally temperamental place to live. And it’s here where his musical impulses have come to fruition, allowing him to explore some darker places into which the indie pop of his band Smile Ease might not really venture. Bearing the influence of artists such as Gary Numan, OMD, New Order and Simple Minds, his solo work is far more interested in the moody echoes of atmospheric synths and the shiver of spectral melodies.
His latest record, “Defractor” (also his debut solo release), was released in November of last year via Tritone Records, and it made great use of space and movement within each of its tracks. Balancing darkly catchy rhythms with ornate arrangements, the songs were immediate in their intensity and refused to be forgotten. The whole album felt like the aching reverberations of a dream fighting for control on the cusp of morning, struggling to stay where those haunting realizations are still somewhat clear and your mind longs to remain embedded for just a few more minutes.
Recently, Jacks released a video for “Lightning Lobotomy, a “Defractor” cut that blends thumping beats with volatile synths and dream-like vocals that seem to effortlessly wrap themselves around your senses. The clip, animated by Eric Power, documents the ongoing disassociation and loneliness of man who crosses the globe in search of meaning before jettisoning off to space to wander the heavens alone. By mixing his electro-pop impulses with the stylized motions of the video, Jacks and Power have created a startling symmetry where the unpredictable momentum of the music plays perfectly off of the unique visions of the video. Equally fascinating and affecting, this pairing of sight and sound elevates both of their efforts higher than either could have accomplished separately.