There is something pleasing about late night city driving. During the day, it’s all taxis and traffic jams at red lights. In most cities, the night isn’t much of a change from the day in terms of traffic. But if you can find a nice, easy strip to drive on, driving around in the city with all the lights shining down onto the street gives a whole new aura about the night. It gives a modern, stylized feel about the night as the life of the night comes out to play and boast all its fun and entertaining ways. In the clubs, the dance music pounds out thumping and driving bass-driven music while late-night jazz scenes allow just about anything in the course of the night. While these two musical genres seem quite separated, the Norwegian band Jaga Jazzist manages to fit both scenes quite well. With A Livingroom Hush, very few albums match the aura and energy allowed for late night cruising as well as sitting in a civilized coffee house, letting the music serve simply as background for the conversations.
A Livingroom Hush is the second full-length album for Jaga Jazzist, who now reigns as one of the premier acts of forward looking record label Ninja Tune. Although each album received much critical acclaim, their latest album What We Must took the band to new heights and their popularity continues to rise. However, A Livingroom Hush finds a band with so many different possibilites in their sound and the intent to explore each and every one of them. Unlike What We Must, which roamed much further to the post-rock side of things, this album toes the line between acid jazz and electronica. The band puts electronic drums to full use here, at times going into a breakbeat style. The keyboards, unlike their later releases, often revert to a synthesized string sound to give a cinematic and uplifting tone about certain sections. A Livingroom Hush is by far the band’s most aggressive and in your face release. Most songs move at extremely upbeat tempos, especially when the electronic drums drive the song.
While never reaching the electronica blend that became so prominent on The Stix, rock music only comes in waves of allusion, instead making A Livingroom Hush the jazziest album Jaga Jazzist has ever released. Some songs, such as Lithuania
, take on a Latin influenced groove with pounding bass drums, allowing this song to fit into any European dance club. However, with the soaring saxophone lines, this song would fit just as well in a jazz club up in New York. Lithuania may quite possibly showcase the overall Jaga Jazzist sound, taking ideas that would fit on any of their albums and blending them together. The guitar lines so loved on What We Must make an appearance, however serving much more as countermelody than having an overbearing presence. The song builds heavily throughout, something somewhat abandoned on The Stix and brought back with new conviction on What We Must. However, the beautiful Rhodes electronica sound from The Stix makes a great appearance. The burst into the jazzy Latin groove, of course, makes this fit best on A Livingroom Hush. Cinematic strings that make an appearance only on this album add in to give a much more climatic ending as well.
Still, there are some things that never change with Jazzist. One of the most revered aspects of the band is the ability to create such lush and beautiful horn sounds while still maintaining a driving rhythm section behind it. A Livingroom Hush makes no exception. Airborne
is completely horn driven. The song, divided into two main sections, allows the tenor saxophone to carry the melody. The first section feels much like a laid back jazz club, taking some beautiful Herbie Hancock-styled keyboard comping and extremely sublime bass and drums. With this backing rhythm section, the saxophone beautifully serenades the listener. A lush trombone sound creates countermelody, a sound later expanded upon on What We Must. Electronic drums enter and the saxophone repeats a much different lick. The second section is incredibly acid jazz influenced. More melodies add in the song, including jazz flute. Yes. Jazz flute, the style of flute playing so memorable from the movie Anchorman, makes a fantastic appearance on the album. However, the tenor sax bursts out into an improvised solo while the cinematic strings back him.
A Livingroom Hush explores many different sounds on the album, including an acoustic guitar riff that doesn’t sound too far off from Dave Matthews in Going Down
. Animal Chin
is entirely electronic drum driven, including a breakbeat drum solo in the middle of the song. Real Racecars Have Doors
ambitiously takes on the form of a baritone sax feature. The song is a combination of dance, jazz, and rock music to create a certainly unique blend. Every song on the album is entirely enjoyable and the album never tires, an easy listen throughout. Even if you disliked What We Must, there is still a great chance that you will like A Livingroom Hush, as the albums take on two very different overall sounds although retaining a few similarities. The album draws as much influence from Herbie Hancock as it does from Thievery Corporation, and is certainly an ambitious album.
Real Racecars Have Doors