Pale Sketcher Pale SketcherJesu: Pale Sketches Demixed
Even the fundamentalist followers of Justin K. Broadrick, those who during a long decade have invested time, money and energy collecting everything released by the British musician, from his metal days with Napalm Death until today, have always seen “Pale Sketches” as the Achilles’ heel of Jesu, the second-to-last project of the tireless artist who’s more addicted to the studio than to the stage and who has firmly walked the path from grindcore to precious, incandescent shoegaze. It wasn’t difficult to understand that even for Broadrick, that particular experiment was the weakest moment in a splendid career, with masterly point clearly identified on the EP “Silver” and the album “Conqueror”, although yours truly also likes the EP “Lifeline” a lot (on which he already starts giving more importance to the melody), as the record was only available on his website, secretly, directed to the fanatics who have no problem in spending money for minor initiatives.
The problem with the record, publicly recognised by Broadrick now that he’s releasing the album we’re reviewing, was the primitivism and a certain roughness of the musician when it came to applying an expressive formula that was more electronic to a discourse that up until then was centred unconditionally around layers of guitars and an instrumental rhythmic base that was mainly rock. The experiment made it clear, or at least pointed at the fact that the Briton was growing ever fonder of ambiental layers, the insertion of more beats and electronic textures and at the same time was losing interest in the more rockist side of things. But it all seemed hasty, forced, uneven, in need of a conscientious process of trial and error. And that’s just what “Jesu: Pale Sketched Demixed” is about, his first adventure as Pale Sketcher, his new solo moniker under the wings of Ghostly International. The fundamental idea behind this new front is exploring the more ambiental and electronic field without harming or slowing down Jesu’s musical run, which will stay on his usual territory.
So this debut is here to rid us of that little thorn “Pale Sketches” left us and to re-arrange and update the sketches of that record. A process of depuration, stylising and reassessment of the original compositions, only with almost four years worth of accumulated baggage, new thought, new means and a clearer and reinforced idea of what he’s looking for. To do it, Broadrick has eliminated any trace of guitars that could make the record sound like the original and, while he’s at it, Jesu, and he has replaced the most post-metal or rock side of the project with an ambient reorientation. Not heavy and boring ambient, like for example Final, one of his other experiments only swallowed by his most avid fans, but preciousist ambient, one that’s organic and gets under your skin. Very much in the vein of Ghostly International, with the inevitable shoegaze injection and pop connections to keep in touch with the public. There is no innovation nor surprising creativity, but there are good reasons to leave him some space and give him a VIP spot on the actual post-shoegazer map.
So, rather than remixes or “demixes”, as the title indicates, what we find here is an explicit re-writing of the original material. With a formula of ambient layers, evanescent pianos, resounding beats, phantasmagoric vocals and pleasant background noise, pieces that in essence hardly had any history at all get a new life, new air and a new run. And not only that, at the same time he presents a project that many had dreamed of, especially those who are allergic to metal and guitars and couldn’t enter the Jesu universe because of the constant and hammering presence of cascading guitars. Pale Sketcher was born to fill that gap and to give us a more ambient, electronic and gliding alternative to its big brother, and we are all too happy to see its first signs of life. Another track to follow of a tireless artist who never ceases to invent new sonic personalities. Another reason to run to the shop, of course. And that inexorably makes us wake up every morning with a message burned into our minds: I need money.
Pale Sketcher - Don't Dream It (Mirage Mix) Pale Sketcher - Can I Go Now (Gone Version) (Donnacha Costello Remix)