Review: Jack Foley
JAGA, the ten-piece collective from Noway, have been pursing
their quest to evole a unique sound which can collectively express
their musical ideas for the past decade, amassing plenty of fans
along the way.
They set themselves no boundaries and are seldom afraid to experiment,
incorporating plenty of instruments, from trumpets, trombones,
electric guitars and bass to Fender Rhodes, vibraphone and a number
The quest now brings us to What We Must, another epic
and deeply atmospheric affair that is sure to appeal to the collective's
Having toured extensively, the band spent months writing new
material for the album, only to rip it up and retreat into an
isolated studio in the Norwegian woods, where they recorded a
demo known as the Spydeberg Session.
Put down in one take, in one day, it proved a breakthrough moment
for the group - conjuring a sound that was closer to their live
experience than ever before.
This session subsequently formed the basis for What We Must,
which is billed as perhaps the most radical development of their
career so far.
Indeed, there are times when the album feels like one long jamming
session, occasionally testing the patience with its instrumental
excursions into its own musical wildnerness.
At others, however, there is an aching beauty and tenderness
about things, as exemplified during the uplifting early moments
of Stardust Hotel, or the rousing closing moments of
Both are deeply melodic entries into the Jaga arsenal, made all
the more memorable because it feels fresh.
Of the slightly less successful moments, the deeply jazzy, occasionally
surreal Swedenborgske Rom feels a little too self-indulgent
to be that accessible.
While the overly ambitious Mikado feels a little too
like something that Lalo Schiffrin might produce after a few too
many hallucogenic drugs.
That said, if you've been a fan of Jaga (formerly Jaga Jazzist)
since their 1994 debut, then this marks a suitably impressive
progression that suggests the quest remains in good health.
Needless to say, the album is released via the ever-reliable
Ninja Tunes label.