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

ONE-ARMED BANDIT

Jaga Jazzist

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.73 | 99 ratings

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LinusW
Special Collaborator
Italian Prog Specialist
3 stars Balancing on the line between smooth, suave and elegant on one side and a bit tepid, glossy and sweetly melodious on the other, you should be able to infer that this is no roller-coaster ride of an album.

Don't be fooled though! This is a busily arranged and musically refined and proficient slice of music. Working on a basis of rather groovy, modern fusion mixed up with a fair bit of electronica and more atmospheric/soundtrack-like (almost post-rock-ish) sensibilities, it makes for quite a pleasing mix of genres and sounds, but I feel the fusion always comes out on top (even at times when the electronica goes as far down as the rhythm department). At the same time it manages to be relentlessly poppy, with myriads of sunny, happy-go-lucky melodies and harmonies popping up to the left and right.

There is an airy, almost fluffy, freshness to the compositions, regardless of a fuzzy, buzzing, mischievous richness that lurks beneath the shinier melodic surface. It sounds neat, clean, warm and playful. This is in part due to the compositions themselves, often strangely (but rather charmingly) na´ve and child-like. Perhaps ripped out of a kids' TV show or a friendly, flowery video game with a slight penchant for the absurd or surreal? The presence and particular use of clarinet, vibraphone, tuba, trumpet and saxophone on One-Armed Bandit enhance this feeling further.

Now and then things move into slightly darker territories, but as everything is relative it is the darkness of a nice, white cloud blocking the sun on an otherwise perfect summer's day. It is hard to find friction. And I need it, something that weighs the album down and connects me to the joyride. It teases with slight abrasiveness in the keyboards, a touch of ominous brass instrument majesty or a build up of colder and clearer free-form progressive structures, lures you in with a set of awkward atonal or glitch'y effects and a sudden eruption of earnest and fiery fusion rhythm and a tenser melody, but all too soon falls back into the meticulous and pleasurable lull of before. Charming, soothing, refined, admirable. But at times I find myself thinking: this is speed lounge. And it is a bit sad, because I rather like and admire what is going on here. It is just a bit too polite, quaint and bloodless in spite of the warm, vibrant richness.

Easy to like, impossible to love.

3 stars.

//LinusW

LinusW | 3/5 |

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