Tuesday, May 24, 2011


The new Jesu kind of bored me, to be honest. It's long, as an album, and all the tracks are long, and nothing seemed to be happening for really long stretches of time. Which is probably the point, somehow, but I didn't love it the way I loved Conqueror.

Anyway, my review, up today at Dusted.

Caldo Verde

It takes a certain amount of hubris to name your band Jesu. And even more to name your fourth album Ascension. It’s surely no accident that a Google image search of the two terms yields not just Justin Broadrick’s post-Rapture-ish cover art (a deserted playground, a fog-bound park without a trace of human life), but also Sunday-school visuals of Jesus rising up into heaven. The message is clear, if a little blasphemous. On the third day, the stone rolled away from the cave and the master appeared, wearing luminous white robes and floating skyward on clouds of glory and full-throttle guitar distortion.

Not surprisingly, then, Ascension reaches for the sublime early and often. Its slow-moving textures of guitar superimpose giant crashes of sound on the lightness of synthesizer, the faint reassurance of Broadrick’s singing. These songs move at a glacial pace, melodies evolving over multiple measures of sound. And yet, for all their self-conscious grandeur, the tracks on Ascension seem more turgid than revelatory. “Broken Home” moves at a ritual pace, a bell-clear synthesizer melody slipping in and out of the shadow of obliterating guitars, its plainsong verse and vocal flourishes lifting improbably under a ponderous weight. Yet lovely as these elements are, they don’t go anywhere. The song proceeds in a stately march to nowhere, its heaviness an end in itself. And that seems to be the problem with a good bit of Ascension -- that weight never transmutes itself into meaning or crescendo into illumination.



Meatbreak said...

I haven't been such a big fan of a lot of Jesu. I did like the Christmas EP though, that was quite nice. I was feelign pretty generous of spirit at the time though. Have you heard his Pale Sketcher ep? I can't stop playing it at the moment. Highly recommend it.


p.s. When and where will your Austra interview be up? looking forward to reading that.

jenniferpkelly said...

Hmmm...I don't think I have Pale Sketcher, although I've got a pile of Jesu EPs somewhere that I never got around to and it might be in there. I'll have to look.

The Austra thing is for PopMatters. I'm just transcribing the tape now, and they take forever, so I'd look for it in about six months. (If you want I can email you the draft, though...)

Ian said...

Best song on Ascension is the one where it sounds like he's clearing his throat every so often. :-/

I think I like it a bit more than you do, but I still think Conqueror is the weakest thing he's done as Jesu. Did you hear that Opiate Sun EP from a few years back? Surprisingly strong.

jenniferpkelly said...

Huh...I really liked Conqueror. Perhaps we are looking for different things from him?

I'm pretty sure I don't have Opiate Sun.

Meatbreak said...

Pale Sketcher is another project of Broadrick's, see what you make of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMryW-8mP2k You'll either love it from the very first second, or not. Possibly.

I think there might actually be room for some Jesu style guitar on it, or it might overload it. It already does have a bit of that tone in it.

I would like to see your Austra draft! Some of the lyrics in it are great, I haven't picked up on them all yet. There's a lot going on in it. I hear a lot of people saying it's an underwhelming record, or bland. I really don;t think so.

Ian said...

Well, it seems like most people love Conqueror and it seems like nobody talks about the debut, so I suspect I am firmly in the minority there. I'll pass along that EP...