From Aural Innovations #24 (July 2003)
Jack Daddy Loops AKA Loopty is the moniker used by Brockport, New York businessman and electronic musician Barry Greenberg. Jack Daddy's music is characterized by techno and hip-hop influences, almost always within a decidedly spacey context. While the presence of BEATS is almost universal throughout Jack Daddy's music, there is a good bit of variety across these seven releases, and a close listen to all reveals a progression from Volume 1 to Volume 6. The following overview is the result of my diving in and dissecting each release.
Jack Daddy Loops AKA Loopty - "Vol. 1" (ABC Co. 2001, CDR)
The music on Vol. 1 ranges from beat driven hip-hop, spacey techno, jazz and rock. The CD opens with "The Toner Shuffle", a basic rhythmic driven piece with some hip-hop elements. It's got a nice groove but is screaming out for a "fuller" sound. Kind of like the left or right channel was turned off while playing it, or perhaps an individual case study, or a collection of ideas that he later planned to flesh out. Several tracks are similarly sparse, though each offers its share of good working musical concepts. "Escalator Rides" is a comparable tune but with some freaky alien synth embellishments. Jack Daddy inches a little closer to fleshing out his work on "Sidewalk Vibrato", which has a cool jazz vibe. Dig that electric piano sound á la 70's Herbie Hancock or Chick Corea. "Everything's Hunky Dory" also has a jazz sound that I liked, but again there's definitely pieces missing. "White Snow, Black Snow" and "Concrete Flowers" are the two tracks that include guitar. The former is a keyboard and beats driven tune with a nice rockin edge. Lots of possibilities had been it been built upon a bit more, though it's not as sparse as some of the others. And Jack Daddy goes heavy metal acidic jam on "Concrete Flowers", though the song ended just as I felt he was taking off.
The tracks that Jack Daddy seems to shine the most on are the keyboard driven and spacey techno works. "Wall Street" consists of syncopated keyboard patterns that bring to mind a frenetic Vangelis or Tangerine Dream, though it soon transitions to a more beat driven off-kilter techno bit. Now we're starting to cook. Ditto for "Electric Rubberband". "Pogo Delight" is similar, but darker, more intense, and with a better sense of thematic development. One of the highlights of the set. I was also diggin the robotic spacey techno vibe on "Vertical Statistics". Lots of variety and it really got my toes tappin. And "Lagoon" is an ambient piece with some symphonics and interesting percussion, but is another tune that I would have to liked to have heard developed a bit further.
Jack Daddy Loops AKA Loopty - "Vol. 2" (ABC Co. 2001, CDR)
Vol 2 is a stronger effort with fewer and lengthier tracks that allow for the further development that the music on the Vol. 1 so often seemed to require. "390 / 490 / 590" and "Snappy Pappy" are both beat driven tunes, but not in a hip-hop or techno style. It's hard to describe, and really quite simple. But they've got an intriguing melody with a sort of computerized Kraftwerk feel, and a bit of ambient robot jazz. Interesting. "The Horse Ride" is similar but is combined with pounding techno dance beats and haunting electro choral vocals. Rave music has lots of possibilities, due in part to it's power, when used within a larger context than just the incessant all night dancing it's intended to propel. "Tilt-A-Whirl" starts off as a playful electro tune, but soon transitions to a pop style that waffles a bit between a loungy, dancey, Latin flavor and a lighter jazzier feel. "Going Forward Backwards" has a similar pop sound. "Chili Fats" features jamming electro jazz with passionate sax solos, that I assume are electronically produced. "Reversed Lovebirds" consists of an interesting blend of floating cosmic symphonics and techno beats and various other electro patterns. Ambience coexisting with hyperactive space beats. And "Calling Utopia" and "Classical Class" are the most stylistically different tracks of the set. The former opens with an Oriental theme played by what sounds like a Koto. But it soon transitions to a George Harrison styled mucho trippy Indian sitar theme. Very cool. And on "Classical Class" Jack Daddy reveals his orchestral influences. Wagner meets Glass at the dance club.
Jack Daddy Loops AKA Loopty - "Vol. 3" (ABC Co. 2001, CDR)
Volume 3 picks up right where Volume 2 left off, but also includes some of the spaciest music I've heard from Jack Daddy so far. "Who Gives A Damn" is a basic groove tune with hip-hoppy voice samples repeating a racial equality line and spacey keyboards that sound just like Rick Wright on "One Of These Days". "Airborn Mazes" is an interesting mixture of spacey atmospherics and world music percussion. At times it gets highly meditative and spiritually uplifting. As I get deeper into Jack Daddy's music I'm finding that some of his strongest songs are the ones in which he blends contrasting electronic and percussive elements into a whole that seems to work well and even sounds a bit different from his peers. "Sensual Overload" is similar and includes voice samples that inject the sensual into the overload. "Cornfields" is along the same lines but is more overtly dancey with funky mainstream rock elements.
With "UFO Sighting" we really start to get into space. This aptly titled track starts off sounding like something from an early Tangerine Dream album, but soon evolves into a still spacey but cosmically beat laden tune. Very cool and I'd love to hear Jack Daddy explore more of these realms. On "Electric Mosquitoes" Jack Daddy goes deeper into space, beginning with a nifty mixture of intense sci fi soundtrack and Forbidden Planet freakiness. After a few minutes he then launches into a full band space rock song. Dig it Loopty! But instead of developing this rockin segment he veers off in another direction. But that's ok because he's definitely on the right track. Things are more on an even keel with "Magnetic Chopsticks". The song is along similar lines, being a robotic trip-hoppin electro space rock tune. Same for "On The Run" which has the same high energy film soundtrack feel that "Electric Mosquitoes" has. "Sun-Ray's" is probably the trippiest song of the set, having a gorgeous mystical Eastern feel, with flutes and sitar and adding lush Vangelis keyboard lines. A very nice piece of music that build nicely on the ideas expressed in the similar styled tracks from volume 2. Finally, "Downtown Streets" is a 9 minute jam tune based around various spacey hip-hop and 70's funk ideas. There's loads of possibilities for incorporating funk elements into space rock and it's nice to hear Jack Daddy exploring this territory, though as a whole the track is mostly a collection of very cool musical bits rather than a single cohesive work.
Jack Daddy Loops AKA Loopty - "Vol. 4" (ABC Co. 2001, CDR)
Vol. 4 opens with "Blue Sky Shakes", a light tune with ghostly atmospherics and Jack Daddy's now trademark robotic electro grooves. "Sparkling Lighthouse" is one of those sparse tracks that has the makings of a decent song but seems to be missing a much needed fuller sound. The percussion takes the lead, and while there are some other interesting keyboard elements, and I really dig the freaky alien DJ scratching bit, it still sounds like a whole channel has been turned off.
But with "Neon Meteor Showers" we're off and running. The song opens with a droning space keyboard and pounding techno beat that quickly launches into a dark, space rockin dance groove with great efx and lots of interesting twists and turns that culminate in a total hand clapping dance party in space. A very strong track. "Live Power Lines" is a similar song that I enjoyed, though not quite as strong. "Atomic Cobblestone" begins with much promise and I thought it was going to be similar to "Neon Meteor Shower", but it ended up being more like "Sparkling Lighthouse". There were also a couple of what I keep calling these sparse songs that worked well. "Christmas Psycho" features cool trip-hop beats and lots of interesting keyboard parts. On the surface there doesn't seem to be much happening but the keyboards are continually shifting in a way that offers variety while following a determined path. Same with "Zippy Chippy". "Country, City, Country" is a bit different, being a very nice spacey melodic progressive rock tune. This song really needs vocals. Jack Daddy can't resist adding some hip-hop beats, and I'm not sure they really work on this song, but as a fantasy journey progressive track this is pretty good. And "Pop-N-Stitch" is a short and fun electro funk tune.
Jack Daddy Loops AKA Loopty - "Vol. 5" (ABC Co. 2001, CDR)
"Space Wedding" is a strong opening track for what proves to be Jack Daddy's most consistently strong album yet. The song is kind of like a trip-hop version of the X-Files theme with thoughtful transitioning between ambient and varied alien synth efx and patterns. "Pop-Corn Trains" and "Bionic Angels" are the next two tracks and could have easily been continuations of "Space Wedding". Jack Daddy does an excellent job of creating a dance party for machines scenario... at least that's the image conjured up in my mind. Music can serve very different purposes. Two extremes are its meditative and image inducing properties vs. its ability to make the body want to move. And Jack Daddy shines when he brings these two elements together. The appropriately titled "Trip-Hoppercise" further explores this direction. "Crystal Snowstorm" is another track that brought to mind the X-Files theme, even more so in fact than "Space Wedding", though in this case it's a spacey pop-jazz rendition. More jazz sounds are to be heard on "Little Sum Durve" and "Electric Loons". The former consists of a cool jazzy trip-hop vibe, a deeeeeep Dub bass, colorful floating cosmic synth waves, New Age spirituality, and a strange voice sample that makes for an intriguing and mind expanding mix. Excellent. "Electric Loons" features more cool jazz in space with a catchy melody, though it's not as varied as "Little Sum Durve". "Atlantic Cityscape" took me a little by surprise as being one of Jack Daddy's more purely ambient pieces, though as usual he just can't resist bringing in the beats. Finally, "Tiddaly Bop" is a kick ass spaced out trip rocker of a tune and a fine closing track. And just when I was thinking that some guitar would make this a seriously killer tune, the power chords (electronic though they may be) came crashing in. Rock out!
Jack Daddy Loops AKA Loopty - "A Day In The Life Of A Fairy" (ABC Co. 2003, CDR)
A Day In The Life Of Fairy is Jack Daddy's first attempt at a concept album and came about when he was asked to make a theme based album about Fairies for an upcoming festival. I can't say the results bring Fairies to mind very often but it is, nonetheless, one of Jack Daddy's better all around albums.
"Wake-Up" opens the set and is a dance-pop tune with the usual spacey vibe. Cool combination of keyboards on this one, particularly the piano and a pipe-organ type sound. "Time To Play" is an electro space rock alien rave party blitz that will have you dripping sweat. "Playing With The Cat" is a hand clapping rhythm driven track with some Latin percussion blending in with the techno grooves, but later shifting to a spacey atmosphere with neato Tangerine Dream gone techno hooks. One of my favorite tracks is "The Honey Expressway", which begins like something from an old Klaus Schulze album. It begins with fast paced syncopated electronic patterns that weave a winding, slowly shifting path. Then the techno beats come in, adding a kick to the existing theme rather than taking over. Yet another potent rave in space rocker. (Jack Daddy says he's obligated to mention that for this track he used some professional samples from a CD called "Top Production Samples Vol. 1" by Bjorn Lynne.)
Despite the title, "Fireworks" opens on a lush, angelic note, more in line with the Fairies theme of the CD. Heavenly choirs and mild symphonic waves drift along until the rhythms are introduced, though they aren't the usual heavy dance beats. A nice combination of soothing New Age and light world percussion rhythms, something that may not sound like a good blend but it works well. "At The Park" is similar but without the New Age elements. Just an interesting groove piece with varying percussion, an enticing melody line, and freaky spacey bits for color and character. "The Concert" features similar rhythmic patterns but with a lazy funky groove and very spacey keyboards and atmosphere, and excellent UFO sounds efx.
"Naptime" and "Fairy Dreams" are tracks that see Jack Daddy exploring somewhat different territory. "Naptime" focuses more intently on the subtle interplay because percussion and studied electronic parts. I liked this tune. For Jack Daddy this is drifting slightly into the experimental sound-art arena, though it's by not means inaccessible and does retain a dreamy quality throughout. Jack Daddy continues in this sound exploration realm on "Fairy Dreams". Rock drumming keeps a steady pace while intense electro wails and other space effects roll through along with a variety of bells, crowd voices, and more. An excellent sound collage piece. I'd encourage him to experiment more in this direction.
Jack Daddy Loops AKA Loopty - "Vol. 6" (ABC Co. 2003, CDR)
Wow! Methinks Jack Daddy got some new equipment prior to the recording of this album. The music is brimming with that FULL sound I keep complaining about. And Jack Daddy seems to have made a compositional leap on this album as well, though being his latest he may have experienced some heightened inspiration this year. "It's Unbelievable" and "Java Fix" both have a narrative soundtrack feel. Dark, intense, theme oriented, and a nice full orchestral sound. The music on "It's Unbelievable" later transitions to a more computerized dancey segment which includes some cool Kraftwerk styled computerized voices. And "Java Fix" includes some excellent space electronica segments along with a simple but oh so catchy melody line. "Riding With Poppy" is a pounding jazz-funk-techno rocker with impressive electronic reproduction of bass and percussion and more interesting efx'd voices. "Electromagnetic Dance" and "Diggadee-Bom-Bom" are space rave heaven tunes... real dance floor bangers. The former includes lots of tripped out spacey bits, and "Diggadee-Bom-Bom" is the first song on any of these albums where we hear an identifiable human voice. I really dig the piano/percussion/trip-hop/scratching combination and use of field recordings (electronic though they may be) and sound effects on "Tala". "Universal Parade" would make a great soundtrack to Asteroids, The Movie. Jack Daddy cranks out cosmic dancey theme music while the battle goes on in the background. Cool power chords too. And "Interstellar Cannons" is a freaky space-dance tune that closes out this fine album. This one gets a best of the bunch rating and I'll be looking forward to hearing Volume 7 which Jack Daddy says he's working on now.
In summary, Jack Daddy Loops does an impressive job of blending multiple influences into his spacey beat driven universe. Interesting things can happen when people who are into space rock incorporate techno and hip-hop elements into their music. Certainly many of the 80's UK festie psych bands did this, many with intriguing results. Start with Vol. 6 or A Day In The Life Of A Fairy.
For more information you can visit Jack Daddy Loops AKA Loopty at the Barry-G web site at:
Contact via snail mail c/o A Better Cartridge Co.; 46 Main Street; Brockport, NY 14420.