In the fall of 2000, the Jigsaw Seen released Zenith. Hailed by Album Network as "a brilliantly packaged and exquisitely produced pop masterpiece," the album was nominated for a Grammy, honoring it's innovative packaging design. As indie recordings rarely receive recognition from the Grammys, it was no surprise when Madonna took home the award that year.
The music of Zenith proved to be as inventive as it's design, taking a bass, drums, guitar approach and fleshing it out with stylophones, mellotrons, e-bows, street noises and between song segues. The music of Zenith is melodic, melancholy and menacing, sometimes all in the same song.
2001 found singer Dennis Davison and guitarist Jonathan Lea stripping the sound down to the basics for a UK tour resulting in a live E.P. Perfformiad I Mewn Cymru. "This acoustic set is fresh and beautiful. The music is flowing, emotional and stunningly immediate. Highly recommended." Shredding Paper, November 2001.
Songs Mama Used to Sing was released in 2002. It's a full-length album that features The Jigsaw Seen's interpretations of songs by some of their favorite artists, such as Scott Walker, Ray Davies, Arthur Lee and Henry Mancini. The band continued on their eclectic path, opening the album with a 19th Century dirge complete with a lyric that warns of apocalyptic ramifications if John Quincy Adams is not elected President.
Pop Matters said "Songs Mama Used to Sing is a covers album that is as skewed to the unique as The Jigsaw Seen itself," while Q magazine called it a "cool and eclectic set."
With a new album set for release in early 2006, The Jigsaw Seen are serving up an appetizer with "We Women".
The genre and gender defying song kicks off with an electric sitar riff that is quickly joined by Indian percussion, electric piano, mellotron choir, acoustic guitar and bass. Though the instrumentation is decidedly raga, the song is definitely not. If you can imagine The Stooges in Memphis, giving Bowie's "Andy Warhol" the once over, you're still only half way there.
The lyric was inspired by folk musicians' refusal to change the gender in a song lyric to fit their own. An odder juxtaposition has not been heard since Joan Baez sang "Virgil Caine is my Name" in her rendition of The Band's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down."
The two additional tracks are a re-working of The Pretty Things' S.F. Sorrow gem "Loneliest Person" and an intriguing new Jigsaw Seen tune called "Idiots with Guitars," which was recorded live at a show in Chicago in 2002.
The three songs have a cohesive vibe about them that transcends the "single" format.
The proof is in the music.
Dennis Davison - vocals, acoustic guitar, mellotron, stylo-phone and percussion
Jonathan Lea - electric sitar, acoustic guitar and electric piano
David Nolte - bass
Teddy Freese - percussion