Neurosis & Jarboe CD review; Jarboe remixes CD review [Neurot]

Music Reviews
Neurosis & Jarboe CD review; Jarboe remixes CD review [Neurot]
Dec 4, 2003, 16:16



The vaguely predictable yet powerfully compelling collaboration between Neurosis and former Swans vocalist/keyboardist Jarboe is one of the best releases of 2003. It's predictable because it sounds just like you'd want it to sound—the album embodies everything that makes both artists fierce and esoteric forces in underground music. It's compelling because it still manages to sound like something entirely new when these two familiar forces merge.

Neurosis & Jarboe opens with a high-pitched whirring sound winding up as Jason Roeder's ominous tom-drum beat and Noah Landis' slinking synth line writhe in unison until Jarboe drops in, drawling in her characteristic, corrupted Southern belle voice, “I tell ya, if God wants to take me, He will.” From there on in, the album is a series of abrupt shifts and cleverly juxtaposed themes that flows in a rhythm of its own. The sinister and ethereal sounds, vocal coos and electro-pulses of “His Last Words” seem like the perfect soundtrack to a David Lynch film. On “Erase,” song parts are dissected and grafted one atop the other, continually building tension as Jarboe wails and yelps with Banshee fervor. The project began with the artists working in seclusion, recording the elements that would best highlight their own characteristic integrity and personality, rather than either attempting to mimic one another's familiar elements. As recorded ideas were passed back and forth, the collaboration proved to bring out the most unhinged and urgent talents of all those involved.

Throughout the album, that signature “Neurosis note”—the sound of something simultaneously recoiling and erupting, the apocalyptic tone announcing the birth of a new world—reaches its apex and becomes evermore icy and eviscerating. Guitarists Steve Von Till and Scott Kelly trim their tones for cleaner, chorus-drenched effects layered between the thunderous distortion blasts of bassist Dave Edwardson. Likewise, Jarboe's operatic wail and other vocal contortions sound perfectly suited to the eruptive emotional fray of the music. Highly recommended to fans of either artist.

The value of a “remix” is so beyond me that it's difficult to assess the significance of Dissected. Typically, a finished song is “remixed” to become a looping, dubby-dance thing, or stripped of its viscera to become something of a signature for “name” electronica musicians. While Jarboe's work certainly lends itself to experimentation and revision, this 12-song disc sounds like any other trip-hop mix of slowed funk beats and spacey loops mixed with sampled bits of her vocals and as such really doesn't work. Clearly, her many collaborators—which includes Jim “Foetus” Thirlwell, Lustmord, Burnt Media, Bildeaux, Thread and Ennui Chicago—put their own stamp on the collection, but that stamp is nowhere near as indelible as Neurosis & Jarboe. [Neurot]

-Dave Clifford

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