Jaga Jazzist – Pyramid (Limited Edition silver holographic foldable pyramid cover)
Post rock, future jazz….Jaga Jazzist’s 2020 full-length Pyramid arrived five years after Starfire, which found the Norwegian ensemble writing longer, more suite-like compositions. Pyramid seems to head in a similar direction, with four pieces clocking in at 39 minutes, but this one is actually breezier and less complex than some of their other efforts. While Starfire was a dense, sprawling work which took two years to write and record, Pyramid (the band’s first self-produced record) was created in just two weeks, as the band spent 12-hour days working in a remote studio in Sweden. The album’s short gestation period resulted in one of their most effortless-sounding releases, one which flows naturally while making some exciting diversions. The first piece is named after Japanese electronic pioneer Tomita, and there are traces of his familiar, twinkling synth tones audible during the track’s nebulous beginning. As soft drums and drum machines trickle in, a rhythm builds and simmers, eventually working up to a galloping pace. By the last few minutes, it shifts into a colorful array of fuzzy guitars, cool sci-fi synths, and wordless vocals, feeling adventurous and energetic without being challenging. “Spiral Era” continues in this mood, with sparkling synths and a tricky but flowing rhythm, eventually cresting with funky but restrained guitar licks and cosmic melodies. Space disco king Prins Thomas made a killer dance mix of the track, attaching a heavy shuffle beat and bringing out its hypnotic, interstellar qualities. Following “The Shrine,” which boasts perky, festive horn arrangements wedded to an Afrobeat-inspired groove, the album concludes with “Apex,” perhaps Jaga’s most fully realized dance track yet. Sounding more live than programmed, its percolating rhythm, atmospheric guitars, and prismatic synths converge in a joyous rapture. While just as brainy and elaborate as Jaga Jazzist’s other albums, Pyramid is the sound of the group letting themselves go and following their instincts, arriving at some of their most unbound, easily enjoyable material. Mint.
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