Album Review: Jaga Jazzist – One-Armed Bandit

February 23, 2010

Yoshi Story, anyone?

Concept: A casino cornucopia suite.

Sound: Jaga Jazzist has made a big switch from their previous work by foregoing electronic beats, scratching, etc., and taking further “prog” influence into their composition. The result is amazing. Every change is for the better. Although sampling is limited, its effect is maximized when applied, as in their Toccata. Martin Horntveth is simply a spectacular drummer with whom power and finesse go hand in hand, and he absolutely deserves to replace the band’s electronic kit. The star, however, is the compositional duo of Martin and his brother Lars, because barring that the album’s appeal is so widely distributed in instrumentation that there could be no sort of choice. The only thing that might throw off a listener is the aforementioned kitsch of its tone — gameshow tropes run amok. What this ends up meaning, though, is anxious but hopeful progressions melding into sporadic melodic rhythm that borders on fantasia. Half of the album seeks to enthrall, and the other half carries great depth which allows it that cherished quality of feeling new with each listen. Overall, the intended concept is performed almost perfectly, and I only say this because I’m trying not to deal in absolutes.

Lyrics: None.

Quick And Dirty: Probably the best jazz album of the year thus far. Definitely the best rock album. Unless you absolutely positively require a vocalist to get into music, this is worth a listen. (♦♦♦♦♦)

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