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Jaga Jazzist - One-Armed Bandit CD (album) cover

ONE-ARMED BANDIT

Jaga Jazzist

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.72 | 104 ratings

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Negoba
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Up-Beat, Modern, Grooving, Just a Little Complexity

Jaga Jazzist's ONE ARM BANDIT is pretty unique in my collection in that is self-consciously hip and modern. I'm not a big fan of modern electronica, which is a heavy element here, but the almost gleeful tone of this record makes me drop my baggage and just enjoy. This record is full of energy, and plenty of risks. The mix can get very busy, occasionally noisy, but the group seems to manage to keep it all together. The title track has at least five major musical ideas that sound very different, from almost free jazz to post-rock, a little math, a little avant-gard, and of course the theatrical electronics. Thankfully, I think most of the drums are live, and this really helps keep some degree of flesh and blood feel to the music. (Track 8, "Music! Dance! Drama! is an exception, I believe using triggered electronic drum sounds) There is a looseness to the beats in places that just can't be reproduced by a sequencer. I think this is what makes this music work this well for me.

The album is all-instrumental, probably best categorized as modern fusion. All guitars are clean and for the most part play a support role. Drums and keyboards rule the mix, with horns adding flavor. Even during some more dream-like passages, the rhythm continues to churn along excitedly. This is great music to put yourself back into a good mood. There are some interesting harmonic and melodic choices that mark this album as somewhat experimental. The risks pay off, and really the only complaint I have about the album is that the band occasionally lets sections hang on a little long without adding tension. But that's really a minor quibble, especially compared to some other music.

Some sections do get a little repetitive and sound like soundtrack music. "Toccata" is several minutes too long. Luckily, the next track is the aptly named "Prognissekongen" (at least the prog part), which packs massive overlapping lines in complex time all in 4:30. Despite some previous reviewers' comments, I feel that the band continue to pull out new tracks all the way up until the final track. While the album is quite coherent in sound, each track has its own vibe and statement. This isn't a fusion record with long sections of jams. Clearly, every song is composed and any improvisation is set around a structure specific to that tune.

This is a little notch above some of the 4 star albums in my list but still not quite enough to reach masterpiece status. Still, it has a unique spot in my music collection, and one that I come back to more often than most albums that I churn through. Easily recommend.

Negoba | 4/5 |

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