Jarboe & Justin K Broadrick - J2
The End Records
Ambient, Electronica
6 songs (41:08)
Release year: 2008
The End Records
Reviewed by Goat

Perhaps best known for her collaboration with Neurosis, former Swans frontwoman Jarboe is best seen as a sort of Avant-Garde Lisa Gerrard, a Kate Bush for the underground. Her solo output is highly impressive, as is her work with up-and-coming USBM duo Cobalt, but it’s the work she did with Jesu, Justin Broadrick’s post-Godflesh project, that seemed to excite the leftfield of the Metal world as much as anything. For the first time, this was a one-on-one, two minds meeting, both well versed in the Post-Industrial genre, making music to describe the wreckage and debris left from the hurricane rather than the chaos of the hurricane itself.

Anyone familiar with Jesu’s recent move towards softer pastures will be instantly at home here, the general sound of this release shifting between that and the likes of Portishead and Dead Can Dance, soft electronics backing the vocals for the most part rather than the gargantuan riffs that Broadrick is famed for, although they do appear here and there (creepy opener Decay especially). Without a doubt, Jarboe is gifted, whether it’s the uncanny ululating of Tribal Limo or the near-Gospel of 8mmsweetbitter. Her voice is the guiding beacon through this subtly fashioned album, capable of shifting moods wonderfully, from the melancholic Let Go to the more light and carefree Romp.

What clearly makes this the work of two experts is the way that the songs interact, each being a separate star but all adding up to one hell of a constellation. Pages could be written about the meaning of it all, the male/female dynamic, the rise and release of tensions, but as with most brilliant pieces of music, ultimately it’s all about the effect on you. Much like Ulver’s last album, the excellent Shadows Of The Sun, this is an outpouring of emotions that is as much the listener responding to the artist as the artist speaking to the listener.

Of course, by now the cynical have listened briefly to the samples (follow the link to buy below) and dismissed all this as pretentious twaddle, but if you’re willing to take a step away from the often rigid and derisive Metal viewpoint, then J2 is forty-odd minutes well spent indeed. Let’s hope that this unique pair will work together again in the future, as releases of this quality are alas all too rare in the musical world.

Killing Songs :
Decay, Magick Girl, Romp, Tribal Limo, 8mmsweetbitter
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