Album Mini-review: Jaga Jazzist — Starfire
File Next to: Dungen
, Zero 7
With their fifth album, 2010’s One-Armed Bandit, Jaga Jazzist seemed to have distilled their multifarious sound into a cohesive synthesis of downtempo, trip-hop, electronica, and experimental jazz; their approach suggested a cross between Zero 7 and Dungen. They followed that studio album with a live set, 2013’s Live with Britten Sinfonia, expanding on their already thick and deeply textured arrangements. Now with Starfire, the Norwegian instrumental ensemble moves into longer, denser, more adventurous song structures. At eight minutes and change, the title track is evocative of some spy adventure shot in European locales. But the group’s music is far too interesting to serve as soundtrack accompaniment; the eight-or-nine musician Jaga Jazzist has always been skilled at putting varied instruments to intelligent use. The group skillfully combines analog synthesizers, brass, and standard rock band instrumentation in a way that makes the combination seem perfectly natural. Even the long songs never meander.
An edited version of this review previously appeared in the Colorado Springs Independent.
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About the Author
With a background in marketing and advertising, Bill Kopp got his professional start writing for Trouser Press. After a stint as Editor-in-chief for a national music magazine, Bill launched Musoscribe in 2009, and has published new content every business day since then (and every single day since 2018). The 4000-plus interviews, essays, and reviews on Musoscribe reflect Bill's keen interest in American musical forms, most notably rock, jazz, and soul. His work features a special emphasis on reissues and vinyl. Bill's work also appears in many other outlets both online and in print. He regularly hosts lecture/discussions on artists and albums of historical importance (including monthly events Music to Your Ears and Music Movie Mondays), and is a frequent guest on music-focused radio programs and podcasts. In Spring 2023 he is co-teaching a history of Rock 'n' Roll at UNC Asheville's College for Seniors. He also researches and authors liner notes for album reissues -- more than 30 to date -- and co-produced a reissue of jazz legend Julian "Cannonball" Adderley's final album. His first book, Reinventing Pink Floyd: From Syd Barrett to The Dark Side of the Moon was published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2018, and in paperback in 2019. His second book, Disturbing the Peace: 415 Records and the Rise of New Wave, was published in 2021 by HoZac Books. His third book, What's the Big Idea: 40 Great Concept Albums will be published in 2024. Read even more about him here.