Monday, 28 September 2009

Jesu - Infinity. 80/100.

The arrival of ‘Infinity’ has left me confused. I’ve read reports that suggest this full-length, which consists of one epically long song, is not a Jesu full-length. Apparently, these claims are from the mouth of Justin Broadrick himself, Jesu’s creator and mastermind, but on official Jesu websites, Broadrick clearly states that this is a new Jesu full-length, so I assume I am to dismiss these reports are inane. Still, I’m confused. However, what is clear is that this is another pivotal outing from the mammoth British act that is Jesu. This time however, Broadrick has decided to go it alone and has created, and recorded, all the music for ‘Infinity’ by himself, leaving questions over the line-up of the band. As a fan of Jesu and music in general, I cannot say I get swept up in the day-to-day running of bands, or even the media reports. I read that one claim when doing some brief research into this full-length for this specific review, but other than that, I tend to live life like a hermit crab, only occasionally coming out of my shell in order to write reviews. I don’t take much interest in the behind-the-scenes activities, so it’s no wonder I’m at a loss when it comes to the most basic of rumours. Chinese whispers is perhaps to blame for this.

Anyway, the news of a new full-length got my adrenaline pumping because ‘Conqueror’ was impressive, probably more so than the massive debut, which introduced me to the drone genre. In some ways, ‘Infinity’ is a return to days of old. Not only does it reintroduce the droning methods of early Jesu works like the self-titled epic, it also taps into the Godflesh bible, sweeping us up in the nostalgia that surrounds the industrial geniuses these days. I must admit, this record was a major surprise. I expected it to continue on from what ‘Conqueror’ had laid down, which was perhaps naïve of me considering Broadrick’s long affiliation with experimenting. ‘Infinity’ doesn’t rely on the shoegazing techniques that ‘Conqueror’ did and has almost completely rid itself of that era of Jesu by immersing itself in the droning soundscapes of old, and the industrial approach that Godflesh began and that Jesu are continuing. The beginning of this industrious self-titled song had more in common with songs like ‘Hard To Reach’, which featured on the split with the well known band Envy. The industrial base is infectious, leading the ways with what I assume to be keyboards and a light sprinkling of clean guitars.

The introduction definitely hinted at a shoegazing record, but this airy industrial approach is short lived as only a couple of minutes into this enduring piece, the repetitive trance-like soundscapes dissolve into the background and fade away, leaving a lush and relaxing feel within the listener. This is until the double bass comes in and the guitars begin to step up into the next gear. Though I do love the luscious textures of that industrial opening, this is truly where the full force of Justin’s creativity is felt, despite the fact that he appears to be using a drum machine. I could be wrong, but that’s what it sounds like. Otherwise, the drums are very simplistically layered. The double bass is persistent and repetitive, always the same monotonous tone and the percussion elements are light, but consistent. These forceful touches were never the best element of the old Jesu style, which was epitomised by the incredible guitars on efforts like the ‘Heart Ache’ EP and the self-titled debut. The guitars are, as per usual, the main outlet, the main force. There are the center of the universe and they direct the soundscapes with their overbearing and endearing decorative patterns of dissonant distortion. Unlike most of the old distortion laden epics, ‘Infinity’ does have an uplifting qualities to the song.

It has a number of lush, albeit repetitive melodies that entrance the listener into a world where insomnia plagues us with hallucinations and vivid day dreams of the most majestic landscapes filled to the brim with ever growing life. The roots of the song, which is primarily found in the guitars, stretches towards the sun like plants competing for vital sunlight during the process of photosynthesis. Though most people don’t seem to like Broadrick’s clean vocals, I adore them. They fit surprisingly well into the lush soundscapes though they become more and more sparse as the song evolves from industrial, to a combinational double bass and guitar led style and then primarily guitar led mode. This song, essentially, resembles different eras of Jesu almost all at once and reads like a time line, indulging us in the past, present and future of the band. From the lush soundscapes, to the repetitive and penetrative double bass and on to the moving guitar portrayal, this song meets and greets all previous eras and throws them together as if it were one giant orgy. Essentially, the song is only 20 minutes long, which is a bit of a let down, but those 20 minutes are packed with moments that will cause nostalgia, reflection and a sense of euphoria as the dreamy distortion takes over for the last half of the song. Despite the lacklustre ending, I do enjoy this song and particularly love the introduction with its upbeat and bouncy industrial vibes.

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