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LP Feature/ Jesu & Envy: "Split EP"

img  Tobias

At some point you realise that musical power is less about aggression and release than about confidence and dynamics. It is this at first paradoxical and unpractical thought which holds this split EP, based on two completely different concepts of composition and instrumentation, firmly together: Both Envy and Justin Broaderick, after all, are perfect examples for artists who have built a formidable legacy on finding a nuanced vocabulary for blind rage and expressing anger and disillusionment in all of its different shades.

The career of fivepiece Envy, especially, seems like a wild rollercoaster ride. Simultaneously garnering respect in the circles of Post Rock afficionados and Punk fans, the band first arrived at a sombre, melancholic style devoid of any kind of unnecessary ornamentation but filled to the brim with unorthodox ideas and surprising melodic manouvres, before finally coming home on the wings of an oppulent, flexible, eclectic and open script. Tetsuya Fukagawa's mostly spoken (as opposed to sung) Japanse lyrics, modularly molded together into Bourroughs'ean streams of coincidental consciousness, are almost side-thoughts and a second layer to brooding moodscapes constantly on the verge of explosion.

On this occasion, though, they blend in seamlessly with the music laid down by his band mates. Songs are marked by dreamy verses and triumphant chorusses, by an infinitely subtle use of crisp electronics and brittle percussion, by backwards loops and a hypnotic forward propulsion and they constitute grand yet precise, theatrical gestures akin to the movements of a Buyo dancer on an empty stage. There doesn't seem to be any kind of creative conflict within the band, which is probably why they have become so adept at singing about inner conflicts and the unbearable emptiness of quotidian regret: „See the Ocean moving ahead in days and a way to testify the present. Weapons put the final Silence in scars“, „Fukagawa sings on „A Winter Quest for Fantasy“, „You learn, I forget and lend you a lie after an apology.“

It should seem slightly odd, on the other hand, that Justin Broadrick is occasionally still judged by his short time as a member of Napalm Death, instead of simply being regarded as one of the pioneers of fusing the boundless possibilities of electronic music with the immediacy and rabid pulse of Rock. On stage, the connection with Metal is still tentatively intact thanks to a high Fuzz- and Blur-factor, but on record, his Jesu project has long left those days behind. Even Industrial is merely a faint echo in a truly personal style bereft of any kind of metaphors or puberescent symbolism. Instead, Broadrick aims at clarity and at channeling his emotions in the most direct way possible.

His two pieces on the split again show how this creed can lead to astounding deconstructions of the song format: „Hard to Reach“, a seemingly simple and pure tune, opens with several bars of computer grooves and winds down in a long, instrumental coda comprising of naked Guitar loops consolingly embracing each other. „The Stars that hang above You“, meanwhile, is a linear pieces gradually building towards a climactic finale from an opening section in the very best of Gothic Rock traditions and a lyrical galaxy filled with uncertainty and ambivalence: „The stars that hang above you are my light. The stars that hang above you are too bright“, Broadrick whispers, as pulsating Guitar motives blend in with momentuous Drums, increasingly lush Synthesizer pads and mysterious Mellotron-like String sections, gradually taking hypnotic doublebass rolls on board.

Both Envy and Jesu incorporate vocals into the general texture of the music instead of exposing them luminously. The reason has little to do with the typical voice-as-an-instrument philosophy and owes more to the notion of presenting a single sheet of sound containing many different meanings and functionalities. Musical power, after all, is not about different egos fighting it out over supremacy but about combining one's unique talents to end up with something that is truly more than the sum of its individual components.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Envy
Homepage: Jesu
Homepage: Conspiracy Records
Homepage: Daymare Recordings

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