JŪ – JŪ Meets Møster [TrackList follows] – RareNoise

JŪ – JŪ Meets Møster [TrackList follows] – RareNoise RNR047, 52:04 [12/8/14] ***1/2:

(Ádám Mészarós – electric guitars; Ernö Hock – electric bass; András Halmos – drums; Kjetil Møster – saxophones, clarinet; Bill Laswell – mixing)

So, what occurs when JŪ meets Møster? The answer is 52 minutes of experimental rock/free improv/psychedelic jazz. The six-track album JŪ Meets Møster marks the convergence of the Hungarian power trio, JŪ—electric guitarist Ádám Mészarós; electric bassist Ernö Hock; and drummer András Halmos—with Norwegian saxophonist and clarinetist Kjetil Møster. The result is an unrestricted record of distortion-dripping, guitar-fueled material of forward-looking, hardcore rock-jazz. This is the sort of subversive music making which is typical of the RareNoise label. Those familiar with the RareNoise roster should have some idea of what to expect. JŪ Meets Møster came out late last year as 180-gram vinyl, compact disc and as a digital download. This review refers to the CD version.

The artists who influenced the quartet provide a clue to the confluences which permeate JŪ Meets Møster. One of Møster’s deepest inspirations was John Coltrane, particularly Coltrane’s later, wilder work. Mészarós was initially motivated to pick up a guitar due to heavy metal acts such as Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin and later, when he started studying music, he discovered John Scofield, John McLaughlin and Bill Frisell. Hock counts hardcore punk and metal/hard rock as a first stimulus to learn bass, and later jazz, hip-hop, electronic music, and African and Middle Eastern folk music. Halmos had a similar background, ultimately mish-mashing different genres into his percussive style. The Coltrane/hard rock combination courses through hefty opener, “Dear Johann,” which commences with a drums/sax improv introduction which recalls Coltrane performing with Rashied Ali, and then shifts to rock-based topography, as the seven-minute piece escalates into a maelstrom of force and brutal fierceness. This is where traditional jazz fans or those who enjoy modernistic jazz may turn away, and adventurous rock fans will increase the volume. A shorter translation of “Dear Johann” was previously made in a trio format, for JŪ’s 2013 record, . The new, longer adaptation heightens the jazz quotient because of Møster’s searing sax chords, while Mészarós, Hock and Halmos extend the pungent groove. The musical muscle quantity rises on the nearly nine-minute “Hassassin,” which bursts with loud rhythmic outflow. Møster’s turbulent sax is mixed with reverb and echo to create a guitar-like tone; while Mészarós offers a frenzied six-string assault. While he’s virtually overwhelming throughout, he gets intensely tempestuous at the close.

The foursome, though, also understands the dynamism of ambiance and atmosphere. The nine-minute “Bhajan” begins with a shadowy, surreptitious sensation, where Møster’s baritone sax facilitates a low-pitched mannerism. The elongated cut advances within two minutes into a hallucinogenic upsurge motorized by Mészarós’ Hendrix-esque guitar work out and Halmos’ hurtling cymbals and toms. When Møster steps back in, he pushes his baritone sax to its limits, maintaining a post-bop jazz tendency which has a percussive characteristic which keeps the strong groove going. “Bhajan” was also done as briefer rendition on . The group’s moody pensiveness pervades “Morze,” which is dedicated to Hungarian musician Ágoston Béla. During “Morze” Møster’s baritone sax has a woozy bearing which, at times, becomes piercing. Hock and Halmos flicker between rhythmic crashes and flowing, slow beats. Mészarós utilizes effects and layering to form an electronic drone aspect.

A parallel sequence streams through the fully spontaneous “KJÜ,” a nearly three-minute twisted sound sculpture accentuated by Møster’s Coltrane-ish sax. The quartet finishes with the epic, 15-minute “One,” which uses a vivid echo mix to construct unearthly textures somewhat akin to Bill Laswell’s contemporary dub designs: it’s no surprise Laswell mixed JŪ Meets Møster. His post-production abilities bring an otherworldly disposition to each piece. “One” steadily builds to an extroverted section with a deafening magnitude, and then slides to a quietly humming conclusion. Like other RareNoise projects, JŪ Meets Møster definitely demands an open-minded perspective. It may be too experimental for standard rock listeners; might be too rock-inclined for most jazz fans; and could be too aggressive for avant-garde aficionados. Anyone interested in a sneak peek of JŪ Meets Møster can watch an edited, five-minute promotional video which incorporates several bits from various tracks, both in a live setting and from the studio session.

TrackList: Dear Johann; Bhajan; Morze (For Ágoston Béla); Hassassin; KJÜ; One.

—Doug Simpson

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