Djinn - Djinn - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Djinn - Djinn

by Rob Taylor Rating:7 Release Date:2019-05-17
Djinn - Djinn
Djinn - Djinn

Djinn are a collective of musicians drawn from the Hills/Goat staple. That would give you little indication for what’s in store on the self-titled album. The only common denominator would be the conjuring of supernatural forces, and an esoteric view of musical history. Djinn are essentially an experimental jazz outfit drawing upon African American jazz outliers such as Albert Ayler, Pharoah Sanders and Ornette Coleman for inspiration. In fact, listening to Djinn made me think of Alice and John Coltrane head to head in 1968.

Listening to the album also reminded me of my first exposure to the Coltrane album, Ascension. I’d been exposed to Coltrane’s bebop in his first phase, and his second phase spiritual music, but nothing had prepared me for what I heard on Ascension. Free jazz was largely unknown to me by that stage. The freedom of exploring tonalities and disunion, disassembling conventional ideas of jazz, and embodying an anarchic view of musical history. Frankly, I hated it at the time but came to respect it for its utilitarianism, for its protest vote.

Djinn present a case for free jazz as something an independent music fan, without a penchant for jazz, might in fact embrace. It really isn’t just free jazz. It’s also global music. It’s also post-classical. It’s also progressive folk. The music ranges from ambience, through bebop, transcendental music, and all-out untrammeled noise. It’s little wonder that the track ‘Rertland Bussels’ is an anagram of Bertland Russells. Russells was a British philosopher who espoused freedom of thought and unconventional ideas. So, this track, as with the other tracks, has the spirit of rebellion - sitars, strangely disembodied choirs, a steadying flute line, strings and a narrator (probably Russell). This track is less about atonality and more about unravelling disparate sounds. Unlike ‘Jazz Financed’ for instance. That piece starts with an echo of dissonance, and delivers on it, with a tempest of disagreeable noise. The mid-section is an unusual excursion that threatens to break into the sort of carnival atmosphere evident on Louis Armstrong’s Live in Chicago recording. It’s challenging stuff but I’ll go into bat for it because it breaks the mould in an interesting and listenable way.

The track 'Djinn and Djuice' shows that the collective can play with unity, as well as disunity, and this piece has a motorik vibe, one that almost feels groovy.

'Le Jardin de la Morte' is also closer to conventionality, with a semblance though of atonality, but all the time there’s otherworldly synthesisers, lightly strung harp and tinkling chimes bringing the music closer in spirit to Alice Coltrane or Sun Ra when his feet were planted on terra firma. I love the fact that Rocket supports this music, and I think it pays high dividends for the label.

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