April 2005

Leaflet review

For ages it felt like we were ignored around here. Few leaflets, and just the odd poster — no less than three from the Lib Dems, and one from UKIP in Kirkcaldy. It is a very safe Labour seat, so it’s not really surprising. But at last, a pile of leaflets have landed on the […]

Dodgy translations

Another meme, via Zootm. This time it’s a Google Language Tools one. You type in the lyrics to a song, then translate it into German, then from German into French, then from French back into English. So which song is this supposed to be? Stars leave clouds of sleep my opinion, do not make them […]


A new meme, via New Links. Type “a” in your address bar and see what comes up. There are some bloody weird results, mostly because I’ve not even used this computer for the past week! And it only contains the history from whenever I last cleared out my history. Ahem. — Audioscrobbler — […]

Biased BBC

Those dirty liberals!!! Channel 4 has been forced to apologise to the Green party after mistakenly transmitting its election broadcast with subtitles from the UK Independence Party… The Green spokesman said Channel 4 told his party that the erroneous subtitles – which ran for three of the broadcast’s five minutes – were added as a […]

We interrupt this commercial break

The San Marino GP was a cracker! But how much do you remember? Oh! Oh! I know! It’s the bit when ITV cut to a commercial break at the most exciting moment of the race! Yes, thanks to ITV’s diplomatic cut to a commercial break with just three laps to go, at the most exciting […]

Election sweepstake

Qwghlm is attempting to make the election more interesting with his “election sweepstake“. I selected 46. That’s probably a tad optimistic, but I didn’t pick out any old number from thin air. Although it probably wasn’t all that scientific. I looked at the latest YouGov opinion poll, and I took two off Labour and added […]

Jaga Jazzist — What We Must

Product Image: What We Must
My rating: 4 out of 5

The Norwegian ten-piece Jaga Jazzist’s previous album, The Stix, is one of my very favourite albums of the past couple of years. Apparently they’re the biggest thing around in Norway. So expectations for What We Must were pretty high.

Although the band has a solid sound of its own, its influences are clearly pretty diverse. What else would you expect from a band with ten members who play no fewer than thirty-four instruments (ranging from clarinets to guitars to euphoniums to Omnichords) between them? This isn’t just being eclectic for the sake of it. The wind instruments are not a tokenistic one-off; they play a major part in every track. This stuff works, amazingly well.

The Cornelius influence is clear in their previous albums, but the band they sound most like to me is Tortoise. The same elements — rock, electronics and jazzier elements — are all there, although with different weightings. Well, Jaga Jazzist appear to have followed Tortoise’s more recent direction towards more triumphant melodies. In this album they are starting to sound as much like The Flaming Lips, and one of the tracks — Swedensborske Rom — is particularly Sigur Róssian.

The biggest difference between What We Must and The Stix is that the guitars now proudly take centre stage. No longer just another instrument playing a part like any other, the guitars are now the centrepiece of a track. The whole album has much more of a live feel. Gone are the thoughtful, calculated, choppy Cornelius-esque guitar parts, intricately interspersed with various wind and percussion instruments manipulated with all sorts of electronic trickery. In are sprawling guitar parts with thrashing drums. In some tracks — like Stardust Hotel and Oslo Skyline — it sounds more like a 1970s prog rock album than anything from the 21st century. There are even vocals! Vocals?! Vocals! Infact, there is a minute-long section that is practically a capella. Very surprising.

The more human sound is even reflected in the artwork, once again by Kim Hiorthøy. Gone is the rather more abstract approach to artwork, replaced with large drawings of all the band members.

The band’s more live style is possibly down to the fact that in the run-up to this album, Jaga Jazzist recorded demo tracks for the first time. These demo tracks are included on a bonus CD that comes with the limited edition version of What We Must. It is, as always, interesting to see how these tracks have progressed.

In a way, it is just as well this extra CD is included — even though it is just earlier versions of four of the album tracks. The album only lasts 45 minutes, and a miserly seven tracks! But the breathtaking scope and diversity of Jaga Jazzist’s music makes each minute feel like it’s worth three. If you’ve never heard anything from Jaga Jazzist before, you should seriously check them out. This is one of the very best bands around at the moment.

Question Time

Everybody seems to be commenting on this evening’s edition of Question Time. I saw most of it, but I turned off as Michael Howard’s slot became little more than a shouting match between immigrants and Howard. And he was rubbish on the issue of Iraq, but what do you expect? He certainly had a tough […]