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Juju & Jordash Juju & JordashTechno Primitivism

8.3 / 10

“Stoplight Loosejaw” starts to play and the rhythm is diabolical, although it sounds like it’s galloping heavily over charred and muddy ground, and above all it suggests darkness. If the album title refers to the idea of converting the club into a kind of prehistoric cave with primitive paintings on the walls and a sad campfire to keep you warm, that might make sense. But if anyone expected to find a tribute to the old Detroit masters on this album by the Israeli duo based in Amsterdam, they might be disappointed: we rarely catch a glimpse of any synths drifting into the sound spectrum. Also, even though the equipment used for the recording and production are analogue, it rarely gives that feeling of nostalgia and déjà vu reminiscent of the sound of labels like Metroplex. What you will find is a sound only found on the margins of innovative techno these days, which has little to do with what's being played in clubs: Juju & Jordash are masters in the use of the hollow space (sometimes, silence wraps the music, instead of the other way around) and the blurring of the 4x4 pattern. When one of their tracks is embellished with cosmic pads or a funky bass line, there's always something there to add a twist that makes it even more expansive and complex. So the album title is curious: this primitive techno is actually the most unusual (which also means the newest) techno around right now.

They're called Gal Aner and Jordan Czmanski, and vinyl junkies know them from the records they've been releasing since 2007 on labels such as Real Soon, Aesthetic Audio, Golf Channel, and their own label, Dekmantel, for which “Techno Primitivism” is the first-ever title, not counting “Juju & Jordash” (2009), an early compilation of tracks released on different EPs. This LP is the first truly liberating exercise for the duo, now definitely detached from any purist techno conventions and exploring all their options freely, often digging into the past without trying to hide it. In that sense, “primitivist” is fitting as an adjective: “Diatoms” sounds as if Pink Floyd's “On The Run” were enriched with dodecaphonic piano arrangements, and on “Shakshuka Dub”, Jamaican beats meet modular synths, which, even though it doesn't remind you of any specific artist or label, does clearly refer to an exploring era like the 70s. Over the course of the album, Juju & Jordash are making free associations between historic texture palettes and tricky rhythm patterns, taking “Techno Privitimism” towards unknown territories. “Slow Boat To Haifa” flirts with smooth 50s jazz with an echo overload, and “Peligroso” is proto-techno of the Cabaret Voltaire variety, surrounded by steam from machines, adapted to a Cologne-style 3x4 pattern. And the overall feeling is that you're listening to something deep, even sunny (and therefore, Balearic). Nothing tallies, but it all fits. And nothing seems to make any sense.

However, this album sounds perfectly unified, and even though it's released on triple vinyl to keep the warm-up DJs happy, listening to it in one go gives one a good feeling, thanks to the use of elements of hypnotic trance, sonic spelunking, and arthouse techno. Tracks like “Dr. Strangepork” (slow and dragging techno in the vein of Andy Stott and Actress), “Shrublands” (not too far from the more “danceable” Throbbing Gristle of the late 70s), the second jazz moment on “Way Of The Road”, and the block between “Track David Would Play” and “Loosey Goosey” (possibly the most Detroit-like part of the whole album, although the bastardisation is obvious), suggest an effort that superimposes two different planes of reality and makes them fit together: on one hand, pre-synth-pop English synthetic music and its feeling of being a chemistry experiment on the verge of exploding (with plenty of dub added to the formula), and on the other, early 90s American and European (particularly Dutch) experimental techno. Along the way, as a bonus, if you will, Juju & Jordash manage to obtain a new alloy that sounds very distinctly 2012. It doesn't matter whether they've done it by instinct or through studying: “Techno Primitivism” is an agile, fresh, and unexpected record, and a big candidate for this years’ “best of” lists.

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