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Friday
Oct052012

Juju & Jordash - Techno Primitivism

Dekmantel

Being neither techno nor particularly primitive, Techno Primitivism is hardly a fitting title for the second album from Israeli mavericks Juju & Jordash. But pedants should be prepared to give them a free pass, as the album is a startlingly proficient fusing of experimental electronics with improv and dub, while still impressively managing to remain somewhere in the vicinity of a dimly-lit club.

Triple LP releases clocking in at nearly ninety minutes seem an luxurious rarity these days, but this one neatly themes each of its six sides subtly differently while still keeping a consistent overall sound: suffused with tape hiss, mildly threatening, and loosely improvised on a mass of analogue equipment. So, first up, free jazz, and eschewing the clichés of your average album opener “Stoplight Loosejaw” is nearly nine minutes of absorbing and uneasy equipment mangling, with a pulsing heartbeat at its core. “Diatoms” takes a yet darker turn, as a pulsating, throbbing bassline is gradually crushed by a wall of fuzz, all of which suddenly disappears into a wild-eyed piano solo before blood-rushing back. Less disorienting is “Backwash”, a bluesy guitar over a deftly treated tom and cymbal jam. Nice.

“Rogue Wave” comes as a sharp change as the second side begins, with a Linn drum and bassline combination strangely reminiscent of The Cars’ “Drive”, albeit far deeper and murkier than anything in Mutt Lange’s history (outside the wife-swapping). A surprisingly slight stylistic shift dubwise, and “Shakshuka Dub” invokes the dependable ghost of Augustus Pablo’s melodica, with the help of a heavy riddim and some unhinged FX. “Slow Boat To Haifa” is slower, gassier, and more industrial, but still dubbed to near-oblivion.

Part three kicks off with a first almost-dancefloor tune, the square-bass-driven “Powwow”, recalling Four Tet’s recent stellar run of twelves. Of course, it would have to be a dancefloor who could tolerate a drop out to twenty-plus seconds of nearly silent brushed drums in the middle of the tune. There’s an interlude for the studied oddness of “Peligroso”, then “Dr Strangepork” comes across like a Theo Parrish remix of Joe Meek, with off-kilter rhythms under some mental early electronic improvisation.

The groove hypnosis sides (D and E) start with a glorious highlight in “Track David Would Play”. David? Chances are, this is more likely to be referring to J & J’s Magic Mountain High partner Move D rather than “Dangerous” Dave Pearce, but whoever it is it would be someone who could find space in their set for a slice of slow, subtly hypnotic, liquid wonder that could keep moving bodies while rending hearts. “Echomate” is a slightly faster and trippier variant, still on a classic raw deep house template; but while the title track mines a similar lode, it isn’t quite as effective, with meandering improvisations losing focus a little. Finally, “Loosey Goosey” is perhaps the nearest the pair come to my addled memories of Magic Mountain High live, as melodic synth lines duel high above a rock-solid body-music rhythm section.

The final tracks retreat back to less emotive territory. “Shrublands” seems content to ride a massive bassline for seven minutes while randomly firing off a cacophony of sounds. After over an hour already it might seem self-indulgent, though it is saved a little by “Way Of The Road”, which pulls together some of the MOR, jazz, dub, and slow house threads of the album into a pretty satisfying conclusion. It’s a fitting end to an album which does a frankly outlandish job of tying together so much that shouldn’t work, in a way that most definitely does.

Sam Stagg


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