JuJu - Maps and Territory - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

JuJu - Maps and Territory

by Bill Golembeski Rating:10 Release Date:2019-05-31
JuJu - Maps and Territory
JuJu - Maps and Territory

This is wondrous music of ritual and mythology that is both modern and, at the same time, touched by the finger of deep tradition.

Maps and Territory melds the tension of Crimson’s Larks’ Tongues, the German kosmische guitar rock of Guru Guru, the funky sound of The Talking Heads, circa Remain in Light, and the magic of main man Gioele Valent and his band JuJu.

By the way, the guitars on this record cut melodic water from The Dead Sea Scrolls.

The great Joseph Campbell (of The Power of Myth fame), said, “Mythology is the song. It is the song of the imagination, inspired by the energies of the body.” This record echoes that idea and is a deep dance, and like all great prog music, stands its ground with solid rock ‘n’ roll, yet soars, especially with sublime electric guitar work and vocals that sing to the heavens.

“Master and Servants” is Robert Fripp specific in its guitar sound. The beginning is tension tight, with vocals that are melodic but almost choral in a ritualistic chant. Heavy duty guitar chording (and a really cool scream) paves the walkway for a great dark riff. Keyboards float around the tough guitar while the vocals continue the sacred vibe. The tension is an echo of Crimson’s Larks’ Tongues. This is dramatic rock music that weaves a journey into a melodic mantra.

But “I’m in Trance” is E=mc2 + funky3. (I think Einstein mentioned this in his Theory of Relativity.) The tune rivals anything that The Talking Heads’ “Born Under Punches” ever claimed to cut into vinyl grooves. Goatman (from Sweden’s Goat) pulses the song. And sharp elbows of musical notes fly all over the place. This is true dance floor authentic age-old stuff. Again, vocals praise the skies. And the incessant beat touches a funky religious rite. And then the guitars let loose with a glorious solo. I’m a guitar junkie, and this is the stuff of Joseph Campbell and all his mythological bliss.

“Motherfucker Core” is tough and spooky. It pulses like a hoodoo in a dark swamp. It recalls the tune “Samael” from JuJu’s first record and is that weird fusion of Creedence Clearwater Revival and Bo Diddley with Can’s “Moonshake.” A quiet moment quells the passion, and then the tune ignites the rock frenzy. A guitar grinds dance floor steps into beautiful art. And those vocals continue to chant ancient magic.  

“If You Will Fall” slows the pace with a rock ‘n’ roll gulp and has a deep bass, with vocals almost Gregorian in their chant. This echoes the great German kosmische musik of (the wondrous) Out of Focus, Os Mundi with their Latin Mass album, or Popol Vuh in their guitar propelled prog mysticism. And the guitar gets down and deeply dirty with rock ‘n’ roll riff religion. This music hovers, like a pretty decent prayer. In the end, the spirit of David Bowie sort of gives a wink like some Egyptian hierographic eye. Yeah, music should always sing, “Give me your hands.” Electronic buzzes twist in the windy circumference of the tune and spark the ritual with brisk fire.

That’s magic.

“God Is A Rover” has authentic rock ‘n’ roll piano stamped into its soul. This one rocks. And it pounds purity with a wild cosmic vibe. It’s a nice return to reality. And a guitar, again, plays an absurdly profound solo. Vocals continue to chant. Keyboards levitate the tune. And then the melody, with weird voices, rides into a warm and very welcoming sunset. It’s a nice up-tempo tune.

A sax wielding Amy Denio contributes to the final song “Arcontes Take Control,” which is a slow dance (almost ten minutes in slow dance duration!) that is the missing link between Crimson’s jazzy Islands and the intense Larks’ Tongues in Aspic. Yeah, it’s that great. This tune pleads musical parenthetical beauty. And it’s a total U-turn from the previous music. This one throbs.  The pulse rate is minimal. Notes are plucked from the skies. The sax sings until the bass and guitar get jazzy; the music becomes a warm cocoon that orbits spheres and then, it simply, like any great myth, disappears into very thin air.

By the way (again), Joseph Campbell, the great man of mythology, also said, “There is a saying in Japan. Rock with the waves.” And that’s what this album does. It rides the waves; it throbs a mantra; it prays in a dark forest ritual, and it fuses “the imagination” with “the energies of the body.” Great rock music always manages to cut that vibrant magic into its better grooves.

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