Jacco Gardner: Sound Explorer
Jacco Gardner understands the elusive sonic matchmaking that can pull listeners to a swirling psychedelic sweet spot. Just hear the way that the wash of wobbly Mellotron strings, the percussive ping of glockenspiel and the baroque touch of harpsichord pile up with the kaleidoscopic chord changes on “Clear The Air,” a key track off Gardner’s Syd Barrett-inspired 2013 debut Cabinet Of Curiosities.
“I like using those instruments because they easily take you to a time and place that is different from reality,” says the 25-year old multi-instrumentalist from his parents’ house in the Netherlands. “Mellotron has a haunting lo-fi sound, which I love. It’s easy to create something sweet but sinister.”
Gardner is young, but he’s already been making music for a while—he started playing clarinet in the school band at age 10 before moving on to punk rock when he was 12. In all likelihood, the Dutch musician will continue this anachronistic sound exploration: He recently acquired some “new” old instruments, including a Hohner Pianet N, an Optigan organ made by Mattel and two vintage keyboards that are nearly 50 years old and capable of making distinctly retro sounds.
For Gardner, the palette of sounds he has to manipulate is as central to his writing process as the standard building blocks of songwriting. “The music that I have in my head is, aside from chords and melodies, also production,” he says. “Working on the technological side of a recording feels the same as working out a melody or chords to me.”
If his music evokes early Floyd, late-era Zombies or The Move, then Gardner seems OK with the association. “British psych bands have a way of keeping things elegant and sophisticated, like classical music, while also being pretty out there with psychedelic effects and such,” he says. Those tension —between order and mental chaos, between past and present, between inner states of wonder and outer states of normalcy—are what fuel Gardner’s psychedelic path-finding.
“I’ve always wondered about my place in life and the world that surrounds me—how the world in my head is different from reality and why,” he says. “There are enough mysteries in my dreams to keep me wondering for a lifetime.”