Intense experimentation from Norwegian nontet...
'Starfire'

Their principal songwriter moving to Los Angeles isn't the only reason it's taken Norway's Jaga Jazzist five years to follow-up their last studio LP, the sublime 'One-Armed Bandit'. When you make music this complex, this expressive, this multi-faceted, it would be missing the point entirely to rush it.

While Jaga Jazzist's sonic explorations can certainly be termed as jazz, they're about as far away from Miles Davis be-bop as it's possible to be, and to label them as merely 'jazz' would be to do them a disservice. There are elements of post-rock, electronica and prog peppering the five tracks that make up 'Starfire', and they all contribute to an album which provides you with something exciting and new each and every listen.

'Starfire' is unmistakeably Jaga Jazzist – many of the riffs still sound like the theme tune to a 1980s Eastern European quiz show – but there are definitely signs of growth. Burbling electronic basslines give a bit of meat to some of the arrangements, which is unexpected and welcome. However, the biggest revelation is the epic 'Oban', where sweeping strings and breathy saxophone give a previously unseen human quality to this most studious of bands.

Occasionally Jaga Jazzist paint themselves into a corner – the ending of the title track plucks an earlier riff out of nowhere and it feels a little like they took the easy way out – but 'Starfire' is never anything less than thrilling. Here's hoping they release some new material before the decade is out.

8/10

Words: Joe Rivers

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