Jaga Jazzist/Four Tet/ Efterklang

27Jan10

The first I have to say is that there have been so many new albums coming out recently that I am completely overwhelmed! Four Tet, Jaga, Efterklang, Autechre, Toro Y Moy, Xiu Xiu, Silver Mt. Zion just to name a few and none of them have let me down so far. With that stated, I have not listened to all these albums enough to make any decisions as to if I like them or not. I’ve been listening to Album Leaf and Autechre for a while now but I still need to find the right way to describe them (besides amazing).

Anyways I’m going to do reviews of the three albums I am enjoying the most so far:

Jaga Jazzist- One-Armed Bandit

Rating: 4/5

If you don’t know who Jaga Jazzist is you might as well go crawl further under your rock. These Scandinavian “rockers” virtuosos have been together since 1994 and have been on the radar since their first release back in 2001 titled, A Livingroom Hush. They blend jazz music with “newer” styles such as electronics in the realm of Aphex Twin and Squarepusher. I have no idea how many people are in this band but I can tell you it’s probably more than 6, a lot more, as their lineup has been changing quite frequently throughout their career. One-Armed Bandit is the latest release by the Jazz/Post-Rock monsters and it definitely does not disappoint. As always this albuis not comparable to their previous release but stands on its own. Smooth and silky guitars and piano/Rhodes/synth weave through the intricate drum and electronics with a hefty brass (and some woodwinds!) section driving the whole song throughout. The most apparent difference in this album (and it can be seen in their previous release, What We Must, is their divergence from the use of electronic beats. This is album has to contain the most organic works that Jaga has composed. Every song has strength and power, but it’s also extremely soft and smooth. That is lent a lot to their using more natural sounding drums. Yes their past albums have been awesome and in your face and fast, but this album takes everything they’ve done and tones it down to smooth enough point that it elevates it further than ever before. Dynamics are definitely better defined throughout this album and all progressions seem to be almost unexpected.

Have you ever listened to an album and thought you yourself, “Okay now they’re going to switch to this progression”, and “Here they’re going to get louder” or “the drums are going to start building up a climax here”. Yeah? Well you can’t do that with this album, at all. It’s great that’s what it is. Completely new music for the person who has listened to everything. If you’re wanting intense, hard hitting, soft, smooth, beautiful, and unexpected new music then check out Jaga Jazzist’s One-Armed Bandit.

Now the downside, I’ve always admired Jaga’s albums because they have such AWESOME typography, and this one severely dissapointed me. Now on regular cases that doesn’t bother me too much but my being a designer myself and my raint criteria also encompassing album artwork and packaging I took some points off.

Four Tet- There is Love in You

Rating: 4.7/5

The first thing I thought of while listening to this album was, “I can definitely see some of these songs in a commercial or movie”. With that being said I believe that if you do not know who Four Tet is this is definitely the album you need to listen to, this is the most readily accessible album in my opinion. There are very small tidbits of house thrown in here which can be seen from the first two songs from the album. The rest of the album progresses back into the Four Tet we all know and love, but man do I love this new Four Tet. Maybe technology is changing but it seems that all of these new albums definitely have a lot of “smoothness” to them, either that or every single artist has successfully made an amazing album. Four Tet, or Kieran Hebden, has always brought us almost-ambient music coupled with extremely layered and complicated drums. Mr. Hebden being a drummer, I wouldn’t expect anything less. This album brings Four Tet closer to the realm between IDM and Microhouse (thanks FUR for showing me the genre). you can easily jam this albumon your iPod, in a store, a party, or throw a couple songs into you DJ set this album is wonderful extremely diverse. Like I said this is the most accessible album meaning in my opinion it is also one of the catchiest albums he has released. Most of the album has very muffled electronic drum beats and when the “real” (I don’t know if they’re also programmed) drums kick in, they stay in the higher frequencies and man do they complement each other. I don’t know what to say about this album except it’s probably one of my favorites of 2010 so far. I took some points off for the album artwork, I’ve honestly never been a fan of Four Tet’s album designs. If it wasn’t for the design I would give this a 6 out of 5, this album is a MUST HAVE for 2010!

Efterklang- Magic Chairs

Rating: 5/5

I’ve had a couple of short conversations with Casper, mainly about how the hell they made their glitch sounds on their 2004 release Tripper, and my friends/fellow Denton residents in Sleep Whale have had the pleasure of telling me they are great guys and extremely fun. This album definitely shows the lightheartedness that I hear Efterklang has. Don’t expect crazy in your face glitch beats or ridiculously complex layering, it’s still there but it’s not as prominent. This is an album to groove to, for lack of a better word, sing along to it if you will. It comes as no surprise that this album sounds nothing like their previous albums, none of their albums sound anything like each other. Kind of leaving the audience wondering, really wondering what they can come up with next. This album brings Efterklang’s experimental nature into the light of day, no longer will Efterklang be enjoyed by the “cool kids” or whatever, everyone can love this album. It’s not weird it’s not crazy (but you who already know Efterklang really listen to the way their music is composed, they’re still the same guys don’t worry!) it’s just, Efterklang. One listen to this album will have you out of your seat and dancing, feeling like you are floating in the clouds with Efterklang playing right with you (props to the mixing and mastering of this album). Listen to the album, it’s also one of my favorites of the year so far. As far as the album artwork is concerned, at first I thought “wow this is a bit different than their previous two releases” but then I noted that is was also done by Hvass&Hannibal. Which allowed me to see that their art skills are not just limited to the two dimensional (also check out the Efterklang CD/DVD Performing Parades they just released, all set design and album artwork was done by Hvass&Hannibal). This is a beautiful album, it has beautiful artwork and a they are a beautiful band.

-AM

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