What We Must
Jaga Jazzist are a hard band to categorize. Within the confines of any of their albums, the listener’s going to be treated to a fair share of glitchy electro, humid jazz and frenetic rock. Recently, the band quashed their electronic predilection and moved toward a more sturdy post-rock sound. What We Must is the group’s most muscular recording yet, employing a deeper focus on swirling guitars, explosive noise and a polished, but more organic sheen. That said, Jaga Jazzist still create the same disparate sonic mash-ups it excelled with previously. On “Stardust Hotel,” the band careen through wiry dissonance on the intro guitar solo before introducing a sparkling pop piano melody on the song’s second movement. The short-lived “For All You Happy People” is berthed in a warm, sharp crackle of distortion that’s cooled quickly by ringing guitar tones and horns as the full band accompaniment steps in to flesh out the sound. “Oslo Skyline” revisits the dizzy, elliptical patterns from the band’s back catalog that build in layers until, at its midpoint, they begin a steady climb, answering Godspeed’s call to lift fists to heaven. Verdant jungle rumbles and throbbing tribal sounds populate “I Have a Ghost, Now What?” At times the track has an Arabic feel, while at others it coasts around on robotic burbles, as if in a Tron soundscape.
The band step into new territory on “Swedenborgske Rom,” as they cut a beautifully multi-tracked choral interlude into the cool jazz swing and deep space ruminations. Jaga Jazzist’s success at such a lushly textured and intricate arrangement on their first attempt is quite remarkable. I’m a little leery that the group will continue progressing toward a more vocal-based sound (a la Silver Mt. Zion), but at least the members of Jaga Jazzist have pleasing singing timbres. If nothing else, liberally employed vocal melodies will just increase the depth of the band’s already masterful music lexicon and put them even farther ahead of their contemporaries than they already are.
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