- I find it difficult to agree with Juju & Jordash's assessment that they've "been fitting in all along." And that's no bad thing. From the slow motion meanderings of their early releases for Real Soon, through to the sunny jaunt of "African Flower" for Keith Worthy's Aesthetic Audio imprint, the pair's output has been as free to flow as their jazz improv backgrounds might suggest. But while the wholesale embracing of the Israeli-raised, Amsterdam-based pair's music by Detroit trio Scott Ferguson, Patrice Scott and Reggie Dokes would appear to align them with a deeper US house sound, in reality that would be far from the truth of the matter.
The duo's credentials as a "hard-bop and free jazz trio" alongside friend Ilya (with Juju manning guitar and Jordash piano) goes some way towards nailing their modus operandi. From a tonal and perhaps timing perspective Juju & Jordash feels like the work of musicians (in the traditional sense of the word) maneuvering knowingly within the four-four frame.
The lead single and opener "Deep Blue Meanies" is the easiest number to get a handle on through its squared-off bass, virulent lead and cinema-going break. An array of the album's key themes reveal themselves: Brittle drums, tension-laden strings and overtly resonate synths all become oft-visited components, yet thankfully are rarely deployed in the same role twice. "Pulse a Denura" and "Dirty Spikes" fizzle in a similarly post-Holden-esque vein, evoking fond memories of the subtler strains of the now muddied trance genre, and, true to its title, "Jazzy Trance" upholds this melodic sensibility; in its early stages via a ghostly sax and in the latter with a blast of arpeggiated synthesis, making for the album's most fruitful marriage of acoustic and electronic. "Timeslip Remix," however, peers too far over the emotive synth precipice and falls headlong into crass canyon.
Despite this recurrent motif, Juju & Jordash offers up a range of BPMs and flavours. Most of the tracks land their targets commendably, but the aggravated funk of penultimate track "Quasi Dub" reveals a hitherto unexcavated looseness that snatches your attention in a new, gratifying way. Everything from the jagged low-end to the dissonant brass ambience benefits from being scuffed up and kicked about a bit, but you could argue that explore such an avenue more thoroughly would fly in the face of J & J's overtly multifarious approach.
Where Juju & Jordash should be thought of in the grand scheme of things is a little beside the point when an act is willing as this to test new ground on an ongoing basis. While few of the tracks truly tantalize in their given field, the pair have set up camp in a place that is uniquely theirs. Wherever that actually is.
01. Deep Blue Meanies
03. Pulse a Denura
04. Time Slip Remix
05. Dirty Spikes
06. Jazzy Trance
07. Quasi (Ruff Dub)