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Jarboe/Justin K. Broadrick: J2

J2 is the resulting collaboration between Jarboe, longtime member of New York City based art-rock band Swans, and Jesu/Godflesh member Justin K. Broadrick. The music here is kind of tough to describe, certainly not metal, to abstract to even call prog rock, as Jarboe makes her voice alternate between operatic, annoying warblings and almost spoken word vocalisations not too unlike Bjork, with Broadrick's waves of varying sounds bubbling underneath. The first two tracks here, "Decay" and "Let Go", border on unlistenable, and it's not until "Magick Girl" where things take a turn for the better. Here, Jarboe goes for a more angelic tone, and Broadrick lays down some crunchy guitar riffs, acoustic guitar strums, and bubbling synths. It's a nice effect, and reminds a bit of The Gathering. However, things start to turn rather unfocused and chaotic again with the ensuing "Romp" and "Tribal Limo", two songs with too much going on both vocally and musically, coming across like a painter who is just dipping his brush in various colors and splattering the canvas any which way he can. Closing number "8mmSweetBitter" ends things on a high note, with spacey synths and a catchy ambient, trip-hop vibe, Jarboe not entering the fray till the final minute or so and for the most part letting the music take you on a dreamy journey. All in all, I'd have a hard time recommending this release. With only two tracks worth any serious merit, J2 is really only going to appeal to the avant-garde crowd or ardent followers of the two artists involved.

Track Listing
1) Decay
2) Let Go
3) Magick Girl
4) Romp
5) Tribal Limo
6) 8mmSweetBitter

Added: August 27th 2008
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: The End Records
Hits: 2707
Language: english

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Jarboe/Justin K. Broadrick: J2
Posted by Duncan Glenday, SoT Staff Writer on 2008-08-27 12:11:40
My Score:

You'd be excused for having mixed feelings about J2. There are some interesting ideas, it has great potential, and fans of real progressive music will love the blatant disregard for musical convention. But it lacks direction, and worse, it lacks cohesion. It sounds as if the two collaborators were never in a studio together.

J2 is a 2-person project with Swans' vocalist Jarboe, and Jesu and Godflesh alumnus Justin K. Broadrick - both deeply experienced and well accomplished artists, and to their credit, you've probably not often heard anything like this album.

Much of this music is constructed with endlessly repeating loops of spacey atmospherics underscored with crunchy guitars held way back in the mix, fronted by Jarboe's elegant vocals. But despite those vocals, don't expect anything approaching the traditional concept of a 'song'. The singing is atmospheric, mostly ethereal stuff, sometimes delivered in just two notes, yielding the kind of vibe you'd appreciate while floating above reality courtesy of your favorite designer hallucinogenic. The music is characterized by an almost gothic vibe with dark electronica, plenty of psychedelia, fake drums, and there's a refreshing 'playfulness', a trippy use of vocals in a weird, unconventional, experimental format that pushes the envelope. Think Bjork in the midst of a heavy LSD trip. Quite fun. But as sweet as Jarboe's voice may be, she needs to get her pitch under control - she's often off by as much as a quarter note, and it's surprising that the production team let that go by.

Opening track "Decay"" does the record no favors, and its non-directional meandering and vague repetitions of Jarboe's vocals over electronica approach drone metal. Plenty of atmospherics, but there's no destination and the music doesn't ever go anywhere. But the whole piece is a collation of interesting ideas, and there's a good variety among the 6 tracks. "Tribal Limbo" is probably the standout piece, and features mock tribal vocals, heavy, insistent ethnic-styled percussion and background atmospherics.

Although the songwriting and arrangements are interesting and have potential, they seem to meander in an endless non-directional haze - and with all the synthetica, it needs a more 'organic' component to give it the balls it needs. That is not a criticism. It is an observation, and a caveat - readers would be advised to 'try before you buy'. Most will hate it. But some will love it.

Jarboe/Justin K. Broadrick: J2
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2008-03-10 06:46:49
My Score:

Where do I even begin on this one? Perhaps it's best to line out the creators of the project to get a little better understanding about what this actually is. J2 is the resulting piece of "music" that comes from the talented if not unique minds of singer/songwriter Jarboe (former of Swans) and Justin Broadrick (Jesu and Godflesh) who together have released a rather confusing and difficult listen for those who are unfamiliar with the roads that Ambient and Experimental music often takes. As the CD begins with the song "Decay", we find Jarboe cooing in a sort of airy, dreamy and hypnotic manner but that is all she does while a deep bass tone strums over it. I felt this could have been dealt with had it not been over seven minutes long because when it ended I felt a sigh of relief and hoped that change would come fast. "Decay" was a lot like Bjork with its weird vibe. "Let Go" serves up something more along the lines of an actual song and it sounded like Portishead to me but that's ok since some of their stuff is rather interesting. The steam picks up a little bit more with the very Gathering like tune "Magick Girl" and I felt the album would have snared me instead of scared me had they chose to open it with this one. This song is a deep and brooding piece musically and runs almost nine minutes long. Jarboe has a lot in common with Anneke on this one as well, and it is potentially the best selection on the release. More weirdness comes into play with the tune "Romp" and while the riffs sounded appealing and moody to me there was a lot of stuff happening with the vocals that I felt was taking away from it. These effects and samplings of numerous vocal styles and explorations can really leave the listener scratching their head sometimes.

This is an album that is not at all Metal, or even holding the traces of Progressive so it made me wonder what The End Records was thinking for delivering it after giving us winners such as Agalloch and Unexpect. I could be guilty of not "getting" it and that would be true since Art and Ambient Rock is such a difficult thing to lock into for your conventional listener and even one who focuses on a number of genre specifications. It's not overall terrible, but it is really difficult to get through at times. Considering that it really only had two tracks that I took as actual songs makes J2 more for the more devoted fans of these contributors as opposed to anyone else. Select wisely with this one, or at least go to an online store and purchase the ones I said were more enjoyable if you are willing to gamble.

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