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|1. Kitty Wu|
|3. Another Day|
|4. Suomi Finland|
|5. Aerial Bright Dark Round|
|7. Toxic Dart|
|8. I Could Have Killed Him In The Sauna|
|10. The Stix|
With their stylish productions, their infectious live shows and their Hoxton/Oslo/Berlin good looks they are rapidly becoming one of the most eligible bands on the block.
In the year since their UK debut Jaga Jazzist have made a big impression. Debut single, Going Down, was made 12" of the week in the NME, was tipped by Gilles Peterson, The Blue Room, and Mixing It and went on to be one of Muziks Singles Of The Year. It promptly sold out.
Jaga Jazzists first live appearance, at the Spitz in E1 was sold-out and they repeated the trick when they headlined the Fertilizer Festival at 93 Feet East.
Debut album A Livingroom Hush was released to great acclaim on uber-cool Smalltown Supersound - see below. Now Ninja Tune (in collaboration with Smalltown Supersound) release the eagerly awaited follow-up.
Jaga Jazzists's debut A Living Room Hush (which got a UK release last year) won the hearts of many who probably wouldn't be seen dead in the Jazz section of your local Megatower CD emporium. Fusing 21st century electronica with airy horn parts and succint, considered solos, it was a joyful, intricate noise stuffed full of stop-start dynamics. Clever stuff, and all the more impressive when you see them doing it live.
The recipe stays pretty much the same for The Stix; interlocking brass, flutes and bass clarinet patterns thread their way through piles of shredded, hyperactive beats. Again, the melodic writing owes much to a rarified strain of jazz rock rather than anything else; Soft Machine or Frank Zappa's Grand Wazoo spring to mind. With a sound as distinctive and fully formed as this, it'd be unrealistic to expect too much change this time around, but there are subtle shifts in emphasis.
There's less improvisation; all the effort seems to have gone into creating even more detailed writing.Some pieces are almost geometric in their construction but there's always a sucker punch round the corner; Jaga Jazzist can beguile with lovely, translucent melodies then give you a swift kick up the behind. Summery acoustic guitars jostle with squirts of digital noise, arcing horns and what sounds like a solo played on a giant kazoo shoved through a fuzz pedal. It's all charged with a nervy, hyperactive energy that'll have the more mobile amongst us cutting a rug on the living room floor. Luminously, predictably brilliant. --Peter Marsh
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Faced with this task, their second album sees them grappling with the same problems that beset a previous generation of pioneering “jazz fusion” artists, in particular The Mahavishnu Orchestra – how to extend further into difficult and potentially disparate musical styles without losing the plot. Their solution, to concentrate more on fast “industrial techno” & “jungle” rhythms and harsher instrumentation at the expense of the laid-back, “pure jazz” melodies that underpinned “A Living Room Hush”, is equally brave and, in the end, highly effective, but the outcome is much more “frantic” and challenging.
So, for those seeking a comfortable continuation to their previous release, “The Stix” will be a disappointment; but for those interested in seeing how far the fusions they’re clearly dedicated to exploring can be pushed, it’s a triumph – dense, multi layered electronica combined with equally complex “avant garde” jazz in a thrilling roller coaster ride of musical exploration that runs, at times, dangerously close to the edge of how far it can be taken without degenerating into “the brilliantly unlistenable”. Sun Ra and John McLaughlin would be proud.
Strange, intoxicating whirlpool of unnerving electronica welded to the gentle illusion of acoustica (Is that vibraphone real?)! Occasionally this uncanny swaying, shifting musical creature emerges into a January morning of crisp melodic writing with a fried breakfast of rhythmic toast and lush harmonic marmalade. Mostly, however, it slips away into the brightness of a moonlit winter night full of glistening and shimmering sounds and reflections.
If that didn't make sense to you then go and listen yourself.