Jaga Jazzist
The Stix


4.5
superb

Review

by Tyler Fisher EMERITUS
June 27th, 2006 | 19 replies | 8,205 views


Release Date: 2003 | Tracklist


Most people, when they think of jazz, they think of secluded and dark clubs with maybe a 5 piece band playing old swing standards as background music to cultured conversations. However, Jaga Jazzist sees things differently. Jaga takes jazz to a whole different level by adding elements of cold electronica, buildups of post-rock, and the abstract time signatures of prog rock. The 9 piece band from Norwegian throws guitars, vibraphones, and many more instruments into the mix. As nearly every member of Jaga is a multi-instrumentalist, one can be sure that he/she will never hear the same exact combination of instruments in any song.

The Stix represents a vibrant and lively view of Jaga Jazzist. Nearly every song pounds forward at breathtaking speeds and doesn't let go. The drive from the electronic drums that are heavily used on this album pushes the album along. As the bass and the drums lay down the pulsating rhythmic feel of much of the album, horn lines blaze overtop creating beautiful melodies while the guitars and vibraphone provide countermelodic structure. The sound whirls around ones ears, and every time something new blasts through the speakers.

The first 3 tracks represent the exhilarating pulse of this album perfectly. Kitty Wu starts the album with blaring vibraphone, clarinet, and a snare drum line that provides all the energy the song will ever need. The two song combination of Day and Another Day bind together to create a futuristic take on the world of jazz. Acoustic guitars blend with techno drums and more fiery vibraphone to build melody upon melody. However, about halfway through Another Day, the guitar goes electric and bursts out an Eastern sounding rock lick, and somehow, even with all these different styles clashing, it works.

However, if there was ever a song meant to accompany a cold, brisk January day, Aerial Bright Dark Round is that song. The cold, barren landscape is put on the table right away with the electronic melodies starting the song off. Tenor sax accompanies in the background, sounding like a broadcast from an old 8 track. Suddenly, the tenor joins the hi-fi recording of the rest of the song and takes the forefront. While in the song title, the two opposites bright and dark next to each other don’t make much sense, the dark, round sound of the tenor and the bright texture of the electronic voices high above melt together perfectly. The song closes with the excruciatingly high yet angelic voices rising higher and higher, an aerial in the sky.

After Aerial Bright Dark Round, the rest of the album picks up with the same intensity as the previous tracks. Toxic Dart is the closest to techno-pop as the album gets, but it's put through the Jaga Jazzist filter and turned into a great song. The fuzzy bass and techno drums remind me of a typical song from Gran Turismo. However, I don't think any other techno-pop songs have a tenor sax carrying the melody. The song continues for over 5 minutes with this formula, but near the end, very distorted, static-like sounds come across to break up the melody. Again, the whole song reminds me of driving around in Gran Turismo or other associated Japanese influenced games.

The best song on the album, I Could Have Killed Him in the Sauna, starts off with a dark keyboard line with a bassline underneath it. An electronic drum kit provides the percussion, once again, for this song. Just before 2 minutes into the song, the main theme presents itself. It's a rhythmic syncopated line of drums, guitar, and bass. It continues for nearly the rest of the song while horns glide over top of the rhythm. With half a minute left, the rhythm drops out for a low brass statement with a gliding tenor sax line. The song ends abruptly, very unlike Jaga, as they like to end on a huge chord or a held note of some kind. However, the rhythmic feel in I Could Have Killed… is unrivaled by any song on this CD.

The Stix, although not Jaga's best, is a great album showcasing the pure energy that Jaga Jazzist can create with their unique blend of styles. However, this gets tiring and one will find themselves wanting another Aerial Bright Dark Round to break up the album.

Recommended Songs:

Kitty Wu
Day/Another Day
Aerial Bright Dark Round
I Could Have Killed Him in the Sauna



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user ratings (63)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
The Jungler
June 27th 2006



4827 Comments


The first time I heard these guy I though 'How come people think it's so good. There isn't any words'. This was before I understood post rock I guess. Good review, I need to get What We Must before this.

BlackDeathMetalJazz or really ANYTHING else please-
June 27th 2006



200 Comments


I really dislike the way you described Jazz in general but there's no denying it, people are idiots. Good review though, I really want this.

What do you think of In The Kingdom Of Kitsch You Will Be A Monster by Shining? (some of the members of Jaga are in it)

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
June 27th 2006



2806 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Schyma, I've never heard The Kingdom of Kitsch...

Also, my explanation of jazz at the top isn't my opinion. I feel it's an opinion of people who have never paid attention to jazz.

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
June 27th 2006



2806 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

And Vague Dan, What We Must is definitely a better starting point than this, so you were right about starting with What We Must. I felt the same way about post rock until I decided to listen to Sigur Ros... they got me started.

LF96
June 28th 2006



97 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hmm, strange, my version has a completely different cover...
Anyway, this review was great, as is the album. Definitely not as accessible as What we Must, but I think they're equally good. I also think I Could've Killed Him In The Sauna is the best track on the album.

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
June 28th 2006



2806 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The cover I posted is the original cover. It was rereleased later with a different cover.

The Jungler
June 29th 2006



4827 Comments


I felt the same way about post rock until I decided to listen to Sigur Ros... they got me started.

Yeah, same here. Sigur is like good post-rock with words and a bit condensed. Way better for getting into the genre than fucking sprawled out 30 minute songs of pure ambience (GY!BE anyone?). I'm not sure if I already did, but have a pos. This is pretty darn good.

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
June 29th 2006



2806 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

GY!BE was the first post rock band I checked into. I liked it... for 15 minutes. I couldn't handle the length. Apparently you were the only one that's pos'd it so far, because I had one already.

Not enough people know Jaga JazzistThis Message Edited On 06.29.06

pixiesfanyo
June 29th 2006



1222 Comments


"Jaga takes jazz to a whole different level by adding elements of cold electronica, buildups of post-rock, and the abstract time signatures of prog rock"

lolz.

do you mean.. jazz takes post rock and prog rock to a whole new level by adding those elements to them.

jazz was messing around with time signatures before Fripp's father was even riding his mother's ass.

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
June 29th 2006



2806 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

[quote=pixiesfanyo]jazz was messing around with time signatures before Fripp's father was even riding his mother's ***.[/quote]

Ok...

I never said they were the first jazz musicians ever.

sgrevs
July 4th 2006



698 Comments


How does this compare to What We Must? Because I love What We Must.

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
July 5th 2006



2806 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's not as good, and it's a lot more electronic based. However, this is a fantastic album, What We Must isn't all that much better.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
July 14th 2006



17920 Comments


yaaThis Message Edited On 05.22.07

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
July 14th 2006



2806 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

:upset: The only one.

riobravo1023
September 27th 2006



274 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

These guys rock. Good review.

cholx
November 2nd 2006



5 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Man this is good stuff.

Two-Headed Boy
January 1st 2007



4527 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I like this mucho grande, alot more than A Livingroom Hush.

I also have the lame album cover. Pheh.

ClearTheLane
July 24th 2008



990 Comments


Suomi Finland =P

MaskAtTheMasquerade
December 6th 2011



2887 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

these guys are probably fuckin cool to see live



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