Never have I heard so much Frank Zappa since the late mustached man played his last note.
Save for cover bands, tribute bands, the remaining members of Zappa’s Mothers of Invention and Dweezil Zappa’s channeling of his father’s music via Zappa Plays Zappa, Norwegian jazz and experimental band Jaga Jazzist can’t help but make one think of the more experimental and strange side of the legendary musician.
Title track “One-Armed Bandit” seriously sounds like a forgotten B-side that might have been lost among Zappa’s countless recordings. The song screams to make you think of Zappa’s classic “Peaces en Regalia,” among other tunes.
But even with such comparisons, Jaga Jazzist front man Lars Horntveth is a brilliant mind of his own. Not straight jazz, not straight anything for that matter, the 10-piece instrumental band’s latest album is an influx of electronic beats, keyboards, trumpets, tubas and also the more standard guitar and bass. Tweaked with a hint of progressive rock as well as a classical base, Jaga Jazzist is a boldly original sounding group. A sound they’ve been evolving ever since their acclaimed debut album A Livingroom Hush was released in 2001.
The album reaches a Philip Glass-sounding level with their effectively repetitive track “Toccata,” a piece that builds up in strength like the most polished and planned might.
Also standing out is “Prognissekongen,” a track whose opening notes reminisce of great progressive rock bands like King Crimson or Yes. Soon thereafter the track molds into Jaga Jazzist’s own style, complete with the pounding addition of trumpets and tubas. The album comes to a chilling end with the slower beats of “Touch of Evil.”
The complex sounding One-Armed Bandit in the hands and ears of a inexperienced listener might sound like nothing. Fans of this sort of stuff will absolutely listen in trance, as Jaga Jazzist is surely one of the most impressive nu-jazz/experimental groups out there.