“THAT’S METAL” — BUT IT’S NOT METAL?: DARKJAZZ
(We are delighted to present to you this guest post by Alain Mower, which takes us off the rails of our usual course and onto a very different line.)
Have you ever found yourself sitting in your dimly lit, Victorian Dining Room, listening to your Burzum/Sunn O)))/Dark Space 1st pressing vinyl in the background, sipping only the finest of that last cask of ’73 lambs blood sitting across from your man/woman/android and thought to yourself, “I wish this could be classier, but I don’t want to sacrifice any of my soul-damning resolve to do so.” Well you, classy reader, are in luck, for I present to you ‘Noirjazz – or Darkjazz for you laymen.
No I’m not talking about Shining (Norway)’s brilliant album from this year, I’m talking about atmospheric, soundscape-driven, foreboding and looming, downtempo (old man’s) jazz.
BOHREN & DER CLUB OF GORE
Yes, in spite of the visceral death metal name, this German group formed of former members of various Hardcore acts is the antithesis of all things Darkjazz. Having been around since 1992, B&D have seen more than their fair share of sound changes over their two-decade-spanning 7 LPs of music. That said, they currently find themselves sitting more on the ambient side of the genre than most, preferring to make the listener feel like they’re the star of a film noir crime drama, whilst leaving enough space for listeners to add their own mysterious sound effects, low-key ever-flickering lighting, nihilistic monologues, anti-hero character progression, and occasional gunshots of course.
Having recently collaborated with a vocalist from the Metal Pantheon, Mike Patton, on their most recent release (2011 Beileid), this decidedly “metal” not-metal quartet will be releasing their newest album Piano Nights on January 24th of the new year.
THE KILIMANJARO DARKJAZZ ENSEMBLE
Very few groups could ever live up to a name as meticulously chosen as this Dutch Darkjazz group, The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, but I can confidently say that even with such a high bar, this band will surpass all expectations. Constantly shifting and progressing melody lines across piano, horns, stings, and voice constantly push the boundaries of engagement. Unique in their ability to be simultaneously engaging in every sense of the word, yet also comfortable in the role of a passive background soundtrack, TKDE balances beauty and technicality with the difficult weights of space and minimalism.
Both their 2011 release, From the Stairwell, and their 2009, Here Be Dragons (when my ears were first graced with their sounds) were on my respective Top 25 of the year lists, and both are masterpieces in their own rights.
(Currently, many of the members are making music with their side-by-side project The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corperation.)
Both great bands, I think that Bohren piece is one of my fave pieces of music EVER!!! Shame there aren’t more ensembles of this nature…
You could try looking at other artists tagged with “Funeral Jazz” (!!!) or “Doom Jazz” on Last.fm… http://www.last.fm/tag/funeral%20jazz http://www.last.fm/tag/doom%20jazz NB – I’ve not heard any of them!
Povarovo is another particularly heralded group of the genre. Their album ‘Tchernovik’ is extremely minimal jazz akin to B&G and definitely worth checking out after you’re done exploring these two.
Bohren & Der Club of Gore sounds fantastic
Love these bands man. Bohren is un-fucking-real.
I’ve only listened to Bohren… yet but this is some good stuff! It will be the soundtrack to my late night journey across London and coach trip home after Amorphis tomorrow. It’s interesting that Bong-Ra is a member of the other groups, I don’t listen to much electronic music, but he’s pretty good.
I’ve been listening to Bohren on and off for a few years now. It is excellent chill music, for when you just want to relax and read a book. Amazing memories of reading a hard sci-fi book whilst listening to Black Earth and Dolores.
Haven’t listened to The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, but have heard of them. Will check out their discography.
The bands have something to offer, but it sure ain’t jazz.
I love this tiny genre, especially Bohren, who are nearly a genre unto themselves. Also, it’s not a proper darkjazz thread until you get that one guy making sure we know it’s not really jazz, so kudos to you, beep. Also, if I may add to the list, I find Andrew Hale’s score for L.A.Noire (yes, the video game) to be right up the same dark, steamy alley.
I haven’t played the game, but a friend of mine showed me the soundtrack in context to my listening to TKDE, and I’d have to agree. I love the atmosphere that it sets. I’m not much of a video game person, but maybe once all these new gens come out and PS3 drop to nothing, I’ll be able to once again give in to my love of all things noire by picking up a copy.
I gotta say I’m gladly impressed to see this on NCS.
TKDJE is by far my favorite group in every genre I listen nowadays.
The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation relies more on drones and minimalistic approaches but still a great listen.
Their album Roadburn is for free at their bandcamp site, so give it a try.
Highly enjoyable to listen alone at night just getting lost in thoughts.
BTW if anyone really enjoyed Bohren and TKDE, I’d recommend you to try Heroin & Your Veins or Somewhere Off Jazz Street.