By Michael Grondin
Jaga Jazzist’s Starfire makes the perfect score for a futuristic 1960s spy movie set on the surface of the sun, as chaotic electronic elements fuse with classical bouncy jazz, creating cinematic super novae of sound.
Starfire is the Norwegian octet’s seventh full-length album in their 20-year history of making experimental noise-jazz, released on London-based label Ninja Tune. This well-crafted five song work of art rises like a rocket shooting into the far reaches of space.
Jaga Jazzist founder and maestro Lars Horntveth spent the majority of Starfire’s recording and production in sunny Los Angeles rather than native Oslo, recording element by element with individual members of the outfit. Though this is a major departure from the method used on their previous records, Jaga Jazzist maintains their boundary pushing sound.
With over 40 instruments in their arsenal, ranging from a wide array of horns, bells, strings and guitars to high-tech analog synthesizers, Jaga Jazzist create intricate and colourful sonic explorations, rising out of singular particles that smash together piece by piece until they explode with full-bodied sound. While there is so much happening at once on each of the roughly 10-minute-long songs, there is an airy and open vibe surrounding it all.
With previous albums, time and patience were needed to become fully immersed in Jaga Jazzist’s experimentation. However, the impact of Starfire is immediate. Through every key change, tempo change and unexpected turn, Starfire is exciting through and through, blending funk, soul, jazz and psychedelia in new and unexpected ways.Jaga Jazzist, Starfire