Published Jun 02, 2015The only constant in the world of Jaga Jazzist is change. The Norwegian experimental jazz collective simply refuse to repeat themselves, moving in stark contrast from the meticulously composed works of 2010's One-Armed Bandit and its 2013 sister album Live with Britten Sinfonia to embrace a more synthetic approach on Starfire that found the songs taking shape only as they were recorded. This album is only five tracks, but, averaging almost ten minutes apiece, each of those tracks is an ineffable, amorphous journey, in some cases presenting the original and a kind of remix in one.
While the constraint placed on One-Armed Bandit — to play everything live in the studio with the whole band — gave it immediacy, the recording of Starfire shaped it up to be more of a studio creation, with principal songwriter Lars Horntveth, living in Los Angeles, being visited by his siblings and bandmates and vice versa. It takes a few more dedicated listens to get a return on this album, but once it settles, the astounding magnitude of their achievement becomes apparent. It took them about five years to come up with these five tracks and, as you peel away its layers and ride along with its movements, you can hear all of that time and effort plain as day. Indeed, the craftsmanship of Starfire is equalled only by its ambition. (Ninja Tune)