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Jaga Jazzist
THE STIX
(NINJA TUNE)

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On their second album, the Norwegian group Jaga Jazzist spend 10 songs and 53 minutes tying fusion, modern jazz, and IDM into a package that triangulates among digital skitter, Scandinavian cool, and prog-rock grandeur. Itís ground thatís been well trod by groups like Isotope 217 and fellow Europeans like Nils Peter Molvaer, but this 10-piece have their own take on jazzy electronica thatís a compelling mix of Mahavishnu Orchestra bluster and Squarepusher skitter. Thereís a real compositional rigor at the heart of their futurist explorations, from the odd-meter vamps of "Reminders" to the elegant horn harmonies of "Aerial Bright Dark Round." Thereís also a natural allegiance between the worlds of experimental jazz and techno ó a tension between composition and improvisation, an obsession with tone and timbre; and Jaga Jazzist exploit the similarities throughout. The clicking of saxophone pads merges into laptop pitter-patter on "Kitty Wu"; intense drum íní bass numbers like "Toxic Dart" play at the edge of chaos. Despite a particular Northern European fussiness ó if anything, the album is over-composed ó Jaga Jazzist turn out a restless and rigorous brand of laptop jazz that confidently reproduces the man/machine interface.

BY MICHAEL ENDELMAN

Issue Date: May 23 - 29, 2003
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