Jaga Jazzist: ’94-’14 (Ninja Tune, 2015)

January 15, 2015 at 6:54 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Jaga Jazzist: '94-'14

Jaga Jazzist: ’94-’14

Jaga Jazzist celebrate 20 years of existence with a commemorative vinyl box set, but the title makes you think it’s going to be a grand career-spanning retrospective, when all you get is a straight reissue of A Livingroom Hush and 2 12″s of new remixes. I wish they would’ve just billed it as a deluxe reissue of A Livingroom Hush. Which is still a great album, but this just seems misleading. Anyway, if you haven’t heard A Livingroom Hush, it’s basically the go-to album for this band, it originally came out in 2001 and it perfectly demonstrates their unique jazz+drum’n’bass+glitch sound at its best. “Animal Chin” has and always will be a ridiculously fun track, with its speed-limit-exceeding breakbeat-propelled rhythm and paper-shredder glitches. The other tracks aren’t quite as crazy, but they always show excellent musicianship and cutting-edge technology. Tracks like “Airborne” seem like they could be from any number of Cuneiform bands, but then there’s the subtle glitches and electronic production. “Real Racecars Have Doors” tips into noisy post-rock territory, and “Low Battery” has a slow neo-soul-esque beat. “Midget” is another fast, choppy glitch overload track, which nowadays seems like a throwback to the era when Ninja Tune used to release stuff like Animals On Wheels and other “drill-n-bass”. “Lithuania” is an 8-minute suite that starts off calmly but then gets into some glitchy mutant disco. “Cinematic” is a slow-burning finale with spare piano notes and hissing waves of noise. The remixes are all of tracks from the group’s later material, which I’m not as familiar with. Clark and Illum Sphere both create jazzy, choppy house tracks, with Illum Sphere distorting everything into the red, to great effect. Big Black Delta go the woozy chillwave route, while Machinedrum creates jazzy atmospheric juke. Teebs stamps out the group’s lush strings with crackling static and thick, skipping beats. Miguel Atwood-Ferguson covers “Rose Heiress” in a beatless, airy string arrangement. Moire does a chilled-out downtempo remix of “Oslo Skyline”, and Invader Ace does a more punchy, overtly danceable remix of “Toccata”.

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