Somnambule - Writing About Music

Jaga Jazzist ~ Magazine

This is the album that could be snagged on Soulseek, but wasn’t available to buy anywhere outside Norway. A mere six years after its domestic release, along come the redoubtable NinjaTunes to the rescue. Magazine is less cohesive than its successors, but all the more enjoyable for that. The album opens with the group’s trademark sound in full effect on Jaga Ist Zu Hause. Martin Horntveth’s thunderous breakbeats propel a boisterous horn section and short, articulate solos alternate with thunderous, grin-inducing choruses. Great fun - sort of jazz minus the chin-stroking. Swedish Take-Away is a more straightforwardly jazzy live performance than anything else the band have produced, with long, vigorous solos that are a pleasure to follow. Plym is a gently reflective piece of gorgeousness that morphs into the sort of melody you find yourself humming the next day and from there the song concludes in piledriving stomper mode. It might just be the best thing the band have done. Seems To Me is a rather lovely folk-like song complete with wistfully sung vocals in English. Serafini Jungelism, although a remix reveals how close Jungle was to Jaga's hearts back in the day. Magazine Part 1 and 2 concludes the album sounding like a film soundtrack, Part 1 is moody and stormy, Part 2 magical.

The current status of the band might appear a little uncertain due to the recent release of Lars Horntveth's Pookah. Lars is the group’s main songwriter and his debut is notable for the extent to which it sounds like a Jaga album. More concerning though is that the group's last album, The Styx, added very little to the template established by its predecessors. Having said that, the group’s style is very much their own and is highly enjoyable. Whatever the (hopefully rosy) future holds, Magazine is a brilliant hotchpotch. Highly recommended.
Colin Buttimer
October 2004
Published by Milkfactory