Friday, July 14, 2006

a sad day

jesu - 'jesu'

released: february 21, 2005
running time: 74'31"

songs: 1. your path to divinity 2. friends are evil 3. tired of me 4. we all faulter 5. walk on water 6.sun day 7. man/woman 8. guardian angel

Always a man with his fingers in many a pie, Justin Broadrick's musical output has ranged from grindcore (with his brief passage by Napalm Death in the 80s) to ambient electronics (Techno Animal) to hiphop (Ice) to remixing other people, not to mention of course the enormity of his work in his most known band, Godflesh, which he led for nearly 15 years.

It was therefore hard to guess which direction his new project, Jesu, would take, but Justin gladly made it very clear for everyone when he said that he wanted to make 'the saddest music possible'. Well, this is certainly a bold claim, and not an easy goal to achieve - god knows CD racks are full of people desperately wanting to sound miserable and ending up sounding like whiny teenagers. The debut EP 'Heartache' was certainly a step in the right direction, but it was with this first full length that Broadrick's vision took proper shape.

The scope of 'Jesu' is what impresses the most. The immediate comparison points might be the more hypnotic moments of the Swans or the more ambient Neurosis passages, but the true musical father of the record is Kevin Shields. the droning of the guitars, coupled with the frail, strained vocals are the closest thing anyone might ever get to the My Bloody Valentine sound, except it's much denser here. That density of sound is the only justified point of comparison to Godflesh, whose urban angst is otherwise miles away from the contemplative ambiance of 'Jesu'.

That elusive sadness objective is fully achieved in the album's best songs, 'Sun Day' and 'Tired Of Me', because Broadrick understands that one can only despair so much. These two songs in particular exhale such tired weariness that they are more efficient in the transmission of feelings than any kind of elaborate tragedy could ever be. The simple lyrics tell no tales, they are simply half-sentences, drowned in the overall thickness of sound, and the vocals themselves feel more like another instrument rather than regular vocals. A particular word to the great Ted Parsons, who followed Justin from Godflesh - his drawn-out, understated drumming is perfect for this sound.

After a few spins of the record, listen closer and you'll start to find very deep textures, be them little flourishes of keyboard or a different buzzing riff, as if they're little escapades of hope from the overbearing malaise. The overall mood is one of broken, desolate beauty, balanced with the odd ray of sunshine thrown in sometimes, heavy-going but extremely appealing nevertheless.

And this goes on for 74 minutes. This has always been a sort of trademark with Justin, but the fact is that the album could have had much more impact if it was a bit more trimmed down. As it is, it is just too much to bear for the duration and it's clearly not one of those records meant for everyone. Of course, being Justin, this is more or less the point.

the good: desperately sad but beautiful at the same time, one of the most emotionally intense records you can find
the bad: monotonous and very long, will take a while (and a particular mood) to fully appreciate


  1. Olá :)
    Não é um "sad day", hoje, é um "happy day" por conhecer este teu novo espaço.
    Virei visitar-te todos os dias.

  2. obrigadinho. :)

    devem haver coisas novas todos os dias, portanto não é em vão.