Jü – Summa (2017)

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When the Hungarian experimental metal-jazz trio Jü made their debut on RareNoise Records in 2014, they did so sharing the billing with Norwegian sax ace Kjetil Møster. JÜ Meets Møster gained both of these European acts exposure to American avant-jazz audiences helped along by the warm critical reception. We ourselves opined that this collaboration was “dirty, sure, but doesn’t sound messy. A meeting of the minds is good, but a meeting of some very wide open minds makes for way better results.”

March 31, 2017, however, will mark the fully unshared debut of Jü; that’s when their next RareNoise project Summa goes on sale. Àdàm Mészáros (guitar), Ernö Hock (electric Bass) and Andràs Halmos (drums) are, like before, a heavy-sounding unit, some might call this kind of music ‘doom jazz’. Their metal tendencies and radical bent would surely appeal to fans of Scorch Trio and Many Arms, but they’ve developed a method of their own, throwing in unexpected dashes of world folk here and there, and often changing the temperament of a song right in the middle of it.

Like “Lady Klimax.” It’s a relentless, sub-Saharan groove with inconsonant fuzz tone frittering around the edges. Well, for four and a half minutes, anyway. A period of calm to regroup and let Mészáros assumes control follows. He leads the band into a metal frenzy but with chops that hint he’s been studying many other guitarists aside from Tommi Iommi.

Mészáros leads again on the brief “Socotra,” but on an African kalimba, a segue to the crunchy romp “Summa,” which is riff-based, but Mészáros moves from one pleasing riff to another. Halmos combines power and flexibility while Hock assumes both the normal metal bass role and a sort of low-end rhythm guitar role, too. As the band tumbles into free improv, they stay in close connection with each other.

“Keltner” may or may not refer to the great session drummer Jim Keltner, but this brief segue evokes Japanese percussion a whole lot stronger than the namesake.

Jü reunites with Møster — along with electronics commander Bálint Bolcsó — for just one track, the “Partir,” which starts off rather meekly and downright jazzy as both Halmos and Møster throw off shadings of swing. A hushed second half allows for ambient textures from everyone and the Norwegian gently moves to the fore with a discriminating tenor discourse.

“My Heart Is Somewhere Else” is a maudlin title for a nearly non-stop brutal, rapid-fire punk song. “Jimma Blue” goes in an opposite direction, a spacious slow moving groove that exposes the multifaceted elaboration of Halmos’s kit sorcery until the three come together in a boisterous ending. The doom rains down really hard on the blackened distortion “Mongrel Mangrove (for Boros Levente)” and the short sign-off “Sinus Begena” ends the fare with Hock plucking a bass ukulele like a Gwanan sintir with only a ghostly moan behind him.

Jü is a band with plenty of potency with the intelligence of knowing when and where to apply it. Summa builds on that solid start with Kjetil Møster to take their game up even higher.


S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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