A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Label: Avalanche Recordings
Release Date: 9.24.13
Justin K. Broadrick returns with his melodic, psychedelic heartbroken solo vessel.
There seems to be a myth among the rock ‘n roll scribes that an artist must never repeat himself, must scrap the wheel and begin again every time. If an artist deviates too far from the sound which gained them notoriety in the first place, however, and fans will be jumping ship like fleas off of a burning dog. It’s a bit of a conundrum, and the whole thing reeks of capitalist ‘progress’ and ‘expansion’. It’s an artist’s job to produce product for the merchants to hawk, right?
Every artist begins with a blank canvas, an empty page, and it is THEIR duty to balance the ingredients, to get all the tiny pieces hanging in perfection, while figuring out what they heck they’re trying to say, and how to say it. It’s the trick, to remain true to yrself and yr vision, while not getting stagnant or repeating one’s self.
Justin K. Broadrick has been making interesting, challenging music for nearly 3 decades, across a fistful of genres, and has never given a damn about what people thought or expected. He seems like that rare PURE artist, experimenting with sound and instrumentation to paint widescreen emotive canvasses across the listener’s third eye. Much hullabaloo was made over Broadrick going ‘shoegaze‘ with his Jesu project, to much acclaim, but over the last 10 years, the punters got bored and moved on to trap music, ignoring or forgetting recent Jesu releases.
It’s worth noting that Everyday I Get Closer To The Light From Which I Came is Jesu’s first release since 2011’s Ascension. He’s not some anonymous dronester releasing a sound collage every month, so clearly he has something to say when releasing a full length LP. In the elapsed time, Broadrick has become a new father and resurrected his infamous Industrial rock outfit, Godflesh. Jesu becomes the vehicle for his more solitary, introspective reflections, as it always has been.
Almost everything that has ever been written about Jesu focuses on how Broadrick combines drone metal with sludge, and this is a perfect example of the dismissive, reductionist state of music journalism, and how we all think about and listen to music. What exactly is drone metal and shoegaze, and why has this artist, who’s been committing sonic warfare decades, decided to employ this organization of instruments and frequencies?
With Everyday…, it seems all about bringing together the body, the head and the heart. The sheer brutal physicality of downtuned guitars, with the heavenly ‘gaze vocals and harmonies flittering around like will o’ the wisps, like an aerial ballet. This is psychedelia, make no bones about it, it’s just dark, introspective, densely layered psychedelia. Our favourite kind.
At 45 minutes, Everyday I Get Closer To The Light is one of Jesu’s shortest albums to date, and it also features one of their longest songs, The Great Leveller; a colossal 17 minute sludge metal symphony, with soaring strings, (courtesy of Nicola Manzan), meeting martial drums and clean ringing guitar arpeggios, giving way to a gravel landslide of crushing riffs and autotuned vocals (!!!). Lyrically, it focuses on the emotional draining that is early parenthood. It is the foundation stone that the 4 other songs are built around, making for a magnificent whole that is short and infectious, standing up freakishly well on continual loop. One wonders if the light that Broadrick is referring to is Death, the Void (reflections of imminent mortality), or if it is innocence, life before misanthropy and cynicism takes hold.
With strong recent releases by My Bloody Valentine, Medicine, God Is An Astronaut, Mogwai and new albums from Pelican and Nadja just around the corner, it seems time for a re-evaluation of the genres formerly known as shoegaze, post-rock, post-metal. Now that we have reached the end of History, perhaps we can be done with dismissive labels that let lazy journalists feel like they know shit before they’ve even heard it.
Quite simply put, Jesu is for anyone who loves dark, romantic psychedelia (think The Cure), or long sprawling psychedelic journeys, closed eyes optional.
every day i get closer to what forestpunk is all about. writing all these album reviews has gotten me all hot ‘n bothered, to go back and explore the millions of genres and bands that set my mind on fire. we do not forget. and we will tell you all about it.