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
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