One of the things that I have been reflecting on during this year of isolation and social distance is how I listen to music. This is naturally going to be different without live music to experience, and with a house full of people who cannot go anywhere else. I have never been a passive consumer of music, it’s not something I just have on in the background… I often joke that I work in the background while listening to something. However, I think putting on an album, or making a playlist has become much more of an event over recent months.
This, I think, has meant that it has become even more of a sacred ritual whereby I clear mental and physical space to actually take in what I’m hearing (this probably sounds pretentious and, with two kids, often doesn’t work out) and cherish it as something which is very positive for my well being… without such times the last year would have seemed harder and less easy to cope with.
I mention all this because this album from DJINN is just the sort of set that enables me to do the above, it has a flow to it which is challenging and uplifting; and while I guess you could put it into the category of free-/ experimental jazz, like it’s predecessor, it is really more than that.
Hailing from Gothenburg, Sweden, DJINN features members of bands such as Goat and Hills and, if you look hard enough, you can certainly hear the imprimatur of both collectives in the background here. But, actually, this not a record that causes you to dwell on its influences. Rather it is a set which transcends that sort of thing, acting as something of a sonic mainline straight into your veins. This is a record that for me reflects as sense of freedom… freedom from musical genre… freedom from conformity… freedom from having to say what you like and why. This, for me stands as something I can listen to without feeling the need to judge it.
Of course, the mantra is often that there is not freedom without responsibility and this, I think, is where the challenging aspect of this music comes in. Because, for me, the banality of much of today’s popular music does not represent any freedom because it does not have that energising power to open the door into a new mental realm… there is no accessible mind palace listening to… (names redacted)… where as this DJINN album takes you into a series of rooms that somehow, for me at least, seem to form a coherent whole as it progresses. This, of course, requires buy in from the listener and the space to do this… but if you want it it’s there.
Much of the music here is simply sublime with a series of tracks that seem to smooth and disrupt at the same time. A good example of this is ‘Jaguar’ with its silky saxophone contrasting with a percussion which often seem to be wilfully breaking up the sound as the bass remains solid in the background… these layers, and this is the case for all the numbers here in one way or another, form this whole which can be coherent if you really tune into them… if you don’t they could just remain dissonant.
There are other times, such as on ‘Urm The Mad’, when the entire purpose it to help you to create that atmosphere or space before filling it full of power in the second half. In other words each has its own energy… and you get the mental workout.
As with most music worth its salt this album needs time… time to percolate its way through your psyche… time for you to attune yourself with its spirit… time for you to create your own aural edifices around it. But when you do it pays you back many times over as you find yourself becoming more acquainted with its wiles. It is an album that, for me, has come just at the right time when I seek to travel at home, to experience something new in my own listening space… it takes me somewhere else and I am happy to let this transmission transcend my isolation.
’Transmission’ is released by Rocket Recordings in April 2021.
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