onsdag 18. august 2010


“Lament For Klaus Kinski” – Jazkamer

I had written this long introduction about the particular heaviness of Jazkamer’s music and its seriousness vis a vis bands like SunnO))), but it seemed like bullshit in retrospect. Listening to Jazkamer is akin to pouring concrete mix around the folds of your brain and letting it dry—there is a deep, expanding density to their music that also might hurt. Audible harshness transformed into physical discomfort and riff epiphany. Jaz starts from kind of a Black Sabbath premise, strips out the vocals and drums and cranks the guitar to the front of the mix. I’m not sure what type of amplification they use, but I would definitely use it if I wanted to harm myself or someone else. Norway must have a deep, mystic vein that musicians tap to channel these dark impulses. Joseph Conrad had it totally wrong in the Congo, he should have been in Oslo. The horror—for real and shit.

The song below, “Lament for Klaus Kinski,” is essentially a single guitar riff beaten to death during the course of two minutes and eleven seconds. The notes from “Klaus” freeze time when they contact the atmosphere in your personal space—cannibalizing your consciousness with the illusion that there is nothing else in the world except for your being and the being of an incredibly loud fucking electrified phrase emanating from a speaker. To say that Jazkamer transfixes by force would be an understatement. “Klaus” appears on Chestnut Thornback Tar, the May installment of the band’s year-long experiment of monthly releases. The Jaz of Chestnut is an expanded line-up, adding N.A. Dronen and Jean-Philippe Gross to the Marhaug – Hegre terror duo. The lone grind of “Klaus” is a simple idea done well. Although that sounds like something Anthony Bourdain would say, it’s true whether we’re talking dripping calf’s marrow or crippling overdrive. At one point we hear several chains are being raked along various pots and pans. This is apt, as it would seem that Jaz actually dine on metal chains before destroying shit music-wise. But fuck the food metaphors, let’s EAT.

Lasse Marhaug answers some of my questions.

Did you make this song while you were pushing an enormous ship over a mountain? If not, where did you make it?

It was recorded indoors in the city of Bergen, Norway. But it felt like dragging a ship over a mountain. We slaved over that song for several weeks, trying hard to make it work, but failing over and over again. It drained us and we almost collapsed in the process, but finally after long nights of blood, sweat and tears we managed to pull through and the magic of good music revealed itself. For Jazkamer that track was something of a personal victory. We cried tears of joy.

The repetition on “Lament” and other songs on Chestnut is almost devotional—is there a sacred element to Jazkamer’s music?

Nothing is sacred in our music. Quite the opposite. If we repeat ourselves it’s because we keep forgetting where we’ve been.

Why did you decide to release an album each month?

Because releasing an album every week is too much work.

Does each month have a particular tonal quality? What was the inspiration behind the May installment?

Each monthly album has its own sonic colour palette. The May album was inspired by long cold nights of Norwegian winter. We wanted to make an album of warm music that would feel like spring.

Why does Kinski deserve a lament?

Klaus Kinski died for our sins. A lament seems to be in order.

Kråkebollen og sjøhesten

søndag 1. august 2010

Brainwashed review of "Chestnut Thornback Tar"

As most know, Jazkamer has set out to release an album a month for the duration of 2010, which, as of this writing, has successfully made it to its midpoint. This album, which is actually May’s installment, doesn’t have any specific unifying theme, such as the acoustic approach of Self-Portrait or the metal stylings of We Want Epic Drama. Instead, it is a "regular" Jazkamer record that stands with any in their discography, mixing harsh noise, drone, and rock in the way that only Lasse Marhaug and John Hegre can.

Assisted by Jazkamer associates Nils Are Drønen and Jean-Philippe Gross, there isn't any specific concept going on, but that is irrelevant. The album begins and ends with two massive tracks, with a slew of short little sketches in between. Opener "Sentimental Journey" sounds like anything but, with its slow, menacing synth pulse that occasionally surges in volume, pushing it into harsher territory, but never getting there. It's a slow build that never gets too harsh but evolves from dronescapes to metal into noise.

"Lament for Klaus Kinski" leads in with what sounds like a looped grinding bass guitar, which becomes the skeleton that the track builds upon. Throwing together junk metal percussion and various processed and filtered sounds, it definitely has a feel similar to Marhaug's solo noise works, but the slightly sparser mix and rhythmic backbone keep it in pure Jazkamer territory. "Life as a Secret Agent is Over" also goes for the harsh stuff, putting painful high end noises and buzzing oscillators atop erratic rhythms, the whole track structurally going for a more cut-and-paste collage style. Between that and the analog textures, it totally feels like the mid '90s noise scene, which is a very good thing.

"Burp Boogie, Burp Boogie" is as absurd as it sounds: less than a minute of looped vocalisms with stringed instrument noodling that makes for a bit of levity at the album's midpoint. Follower "In The Days of the Burning Guitar" throws together percussion blasts and white noise waves in a way that resembles a drumkit being pushed down a steep hillside, with a still-functioning analog synth not far behind. The occasional rhythmic drive of "It is the Nobel Prize I want, It's worth $400,000" isn't far removed from the European school of power electronics, but with the unnecessary provocative imagery and vocals stripped away.

Leading up to the album's close, "We Need a Painting, Not a Frame" utilizes more of the erratic, crashing percussion with squelchy static and feedback to create an exhausting pastiche of pummeling sound. The lengthy closer, "Yellow Mountain Fur Peak," goes a dramatically different direction than the other long piece went when it comes to composition. While the opener was all about tense, cautious restraint, this is pure maximalism at its finest: a hollow ambience enshrouds sharp, clipping static and distant cymbals as painfully high frequency oscillators and heavily effected percussion thuds away. The outbursts of static with the stop and start drum freakouts gives the 13-plus minute duration a prog-rock vibe somehow, with the complexity and inherent drama in the track.

While the "new album a month" concept isn't new (Merzbow and Aube did it, but as prolific as they are in general, it's a different story), Jazkamer is using the method to not only try out new things, but also to continue to refine their own sound that clashes noise and drone sounds with a heavy metal sensibility. Luckily, it's not a gimmick, just a good way to spread their work out more.

Creaig Dunton, Brainwashed.com

Tape book