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Jackie-O Motherfu**er

by James Hadfield

With a name like that, Jackie-O Motherf**ker is never going to be the kind of band you could take home to meet your parents.

Still, it’d be wrong to dismiss this Portland, Oregon, outfit as mere shock jocks. Their sprawling, magpie improvisations can be as noisy as a weekend in Baghdad, but they also embrace everything from spaced-out drones and found sound to traditional Americana and blues.

“Fig 5″ (2000) included a singular take on that hoary old staple, “Amazing Grace,” while “Flags of the Sacred Harp” (2005) centered around reinterpretations of songs from a 19th-century hymnbook. On last year’s “Valley of Fire” album, the band revealed another unexpected influence: the 20-minute jam that closed proceedings was a loose reading of “She Watch Channel Zero?!” by influential hip-hop crew Public Enemy. And that’s to say nothing of the Beach Boys cover that preceded it.

Formed in 1994 by saxophonist Nester Bucket and multi-instrumentalist Tom Greenwood, Jackie-O has sprawled and contracted over the subsequent years, at one point counting 20-odd musicians in three different cities among their number. Today, Greenwood remains the one constant, and will be joined on the band’s latest Japan tour by on-off sparring partner Honey Owens (vocals, various instruments), Nick Binderman (guitar) and Danny Sasaki (drums).

You’ll want to turn up on time for these dates, as the support acts promise to be no less brain-frying than the main event. Legendary noise musician and animal lover Merzbow will be clashing with guitarist Seiichi Yamamoto (Rovo, Para, ex-Boredoms) in Kyoto, and with musical everyman and one-time Sonic Youth member Jim O’Rourke in Tokyo. Bringing up the rear at both shows is the self-titled “brutal orchestra” Vampillia, collaborating with avant-pop songstress Tujiko Noriko. Jackie-O’s final Tokyo date, meanwhile, sees them sharing a bill with the deliriously heavy drone metal duo OM.

Jackie-O Motherfu**er play May 31 at Club Metro, Kyoto ([075] 752-4765, ¥3,000 advance, 5.30 p.m. start) and June 2 (7.30 p.m. start) and June 4 (7 p.m. start) at Shibuya O-Nest ([03] 3462-4420, ¥3,500 advance). See www.inpartmaint.com/yacca/ for more details.