1. The Thing introduces?
2. One-Armed Bandit
3. Bananfluer Overalt
4. 220 V / Spektral
7. Book Of Glass
8. Music! Dance! Drama!
9. Touch Of Evil
Jazzist - One-Armed Bandit (Ninja Tune)
five years since the accomplished What We Must, Norway's
Jaga Jazzist has expanded from a core septet into a nine-piece,
and the results on this, the band's sixth album, are even
deeper, richer and more detailed than what went before.
Lars Horntveth set up Jaga when he was a mere 14-year-old
and, with a band of talented fellow multi-instrumentalists,
has built a formidable reputation in his Scandinavian homeland,
developing a large, devoted following. On the strength of
One-Armed Bandit, that homegrown success may well spread
to produce a greater global fanbase.
majority of the band have spent the past 15 years playing
together and that developed understanding and musical telepathy
shines through, leading to a homogenous whole where no one
member of the team feels the need to force their ego into
the mix by engaging in indulgent solos. Instead the music
is detailed, cohesive and full of movement.
out with a raucous jazz jam from Norwegian jazz band The
Thing, (who just happened to be in Chicago at the
same time as Jaga Jazzist were mixing the album with Tortoise's
John McEntire), the title track then kicks in. Beginning
like a harpsichord-led '60s film soundtrack, a funk heavy
bassline and jazz touches are then added to the mix. A phase
that sounds remarkably like incidental Who Wants To Be A
Millionaire-style game show music follows before a crazy,
haphazard, Frank Zappa-esque break reintroduces
the track's main hook and then fades to a twinkling hush.
that's just the first track. It signals the shape of the
rest of the album though, as each composition, many of which
clock in at over six minutes, shifts and evolves through
different phases. While this could all result in meandering
self-indulgent jams of varying degrees of pretension, there
is a focus that runs throughout, with defined sections to
each track and hooks liberally strewn all over, making it
an engaging, exciting and rewarding listen.
can never be sure where you're going to end up though. 200
V / Spectral starts out with a delicate piano line and gently
parping bass but then opens up into a spacey, jazz-led wig
out. The nagging Toccata gradually builds from synth and
piano-led loops before the brass section moves in, injecting
increasing drama and gravity. Book Of Glass starts off like
a summery jaunt through sun-baked pastures, goes off on
a jazzy tangent and then reaches a beautiful, melodic crescendo
before repeating the whole dizzying process again. The final
track, Touch Of Evil, meanwhile, sees a lullaby broken by
a pounding kick drum, fast dub-style bassline and dark atmospherics.
are clear prog and jazz funk influences in evidence but,
while that may make some baulk and fear an onslaught of
unlistenable twaddle, Jaga Jazzist take the best parts from
those reference points, such as prog's ever evolving nature,
or the freedom and lack of creative constraints of jazz,
and mix them into a joyful, celebratory whole. While by
no means mainstream, the end result is unclicheéd
and imbued with such detail you will keep returning for
another helping, noticing something new on every visit.
a fine line between being leftfield and hook-laden, Jaga
Jazzist have delivered another selection of epic, psychedelic
sojourns through electronics, brass and beats that consistently
engage and excite. One-Armed Bandit has the strength, originality
and creative fire to go all the way.