The SoHo Grand is noisy, a mess with dissonance. I write this because sound, and its manipulation, are key to understanding Jazzanova's latest work In Between and its role as a harbinger in the coming musical episodes of eletronica. More intricate than a microchip, yet painfully human, romantic, lush...In Between takes electronica from where it is straight into the great unknown; and the ride is awesome.

Alexander Barck, and Claas Brieler chill across the couch from me, seemingly unaware of what they and the rest of the members of the world's foremost DJ collective have brought to life. In Between is the Kind of Blue of electronic music, and I might be understating that slightly. It is a passionate romp through studio tricks, light, and magic. It is decidedly not like The Remixes (so don't expect that same pulse-pounding kinetic experience). Yet it remains alive, vibey, dope.

"It's cinematic," muses Brieler, as he looks on at me, stunned by my comparison to Miles' seminal work. "It's meant to tell a story."

I press them on what I have immediately identified as the album's most important, if not most groundbreaking track, "L.O.V.E. and You & I," which is to sampling what Jordan, circa his fifth championship, was to b-ball.

"That's a special song," kicks Brieler. "We were trying to do something different...amazing. And all of the samples are from love songs."

I lay back in the cut and go over the song in my head. I've listened to it endlessly for the last week. I fail to grow tired of its layered intricacy. I fail to stop thinking about how any group of electronic artists can elevate sampling to such stratospheric heights while integrating straight ahead jazz, samba-you name it, it's in there.

I smile at Alex and Claas. I stop trying to explain to myself why it's one of the hottest albums ever and, instead, I chug my beer and give them both a pound.

There is a great deal to recommend this album aside from its nuance-filled intro. "Another New Day," with its snare drum funk and high hat, is a resounding success musically, as it manages to seem spartan without seeming stripped down. The time-signature elusive "Soon" rocks with the cool stylings of Philly's own soul-singing DJ hybrid Vikter Duplaix (Philadelphia native Ursula Rucker also makes another stirring appearance on the dark "Keep Falling").

A couple of years back I kicked it with Alex when Jazzanova came to the US to hit some colleges and a few small venues on a summer tour. Napster had blown them up with the university community in a big way, so we talked about how ravenous American fans were for the group's music (as well as anyone not fortunate enough to have access to some turntables). The Remixes seemed like the light at the end of the tunnel. But an original work was what the team had in mind all along.

[Releasing The Remixes] was not our first idea. First we wanted to have the album, then do this [release a remix compilation] and not have this Kruder & Dorfmeister thing happen.

I laughed then, as I'm sure many fans of downtempo will laugh now. One thing's for sure though, this album is no joke. An essential piece to the puzzle that makes up any sophisticated music lover's lifestyle.

 

 
 
 
 
 

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