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Album Review: Jack Lion — ION


Jack Lion, Iowa City’s darlings of downtempo ambient jazz electronica, released their new ION EP last month.

The group, which consists of drummer Justin LeDuc, trumpeter and producer Brian Lewis Smith and bassist Drew Morton, formed in the early ’00s, and the members use their background in jazz improvisation along with equal parts electronic production to manifest their unique ambient sounds.

The ION EP, a nearly LP-length program of five new tracks, is the band’s third EP release. The collection of songs boasts an even, smooth and evocative texture of jazz plus production, digital intelligence and sensitive improvisation. It’s somehow smooth AND edgy, with plenty of temporal and textural excitement without the whiplash. It stands in tribute equally to Tortoise and Miles Davis, except you’re in a European club with neon blue lights and you’re wearing cashmere and smoking unfiltered cigarettes. Yet, somehow, this strange and compelling music comes from Iowa City.

This collection makes a cool and evocative ambient soundtrack, but rewards closer listening for you nerdier heads out there. The record peaks with the dramatic and far-out proggy track “Equal Time” and the final single, “SRRNDR,” which highlights the band’s advanced level of musical communication and improvisational ability.

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 212.


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