Listen, there are people who think this whole reviewing-music idea is total bullshit. Shocking, I know. But tonight I felt just the faintest hint of an reminder that such people have something of a point, even if they cribbed it from a dog-eared copy of The Wit and Wisdom of Oscar Wilde. Here's what happened: a month or two ago I was getting together a bunch of records I hadn't heard during 2005, trying to make sure I hadn't missed anything major, since my year-end list for Decibel was already two weeks overdue. I got my grubby little mitts on about twenty discs from various sources and I sat down in front of the stereo.
These were not optimal listening conditions, obviously, though I still found some amazing stuff: who'd've thought, for example, that an album by a band calling itself "Through the Eyes of the Dead" would be kick-ass galloping-horses metal? These are weird times. One record that didn't do anything for me, though, was the self-titled album by Jesu, which is Justin Broadrick's deal, he who once was known as "that dude from Godflesh."
I listened to it on a sunny day a month or so ago: light coming through the windows, mosquitos on the wing, cats chasing each other across the lawn. That sort of thing. It played, and nothing really registered. I listened for a while, and then I set it aside.
Today, it rained all day. I felt so fucking miserable. I hate the rain. I can deal with rain if it's hot and humid outside; that's a different thing. A rainy day in December, though, is what it'll be for all eternity when I finally wake up one morning in Hell.
The rain never really let up, and the sun never really came out, and then it was night. Downstairs it was cold and drafty, and the evening wore on a little, and I just randomly chucked the Jesu disc into the changer. Shortly thereafter I found myself transfixed; the sound, the mood, the feel was utterly changed. The keyboards sounded liturgical and grand, and the vocals, which in the daytime had seemed kind of lost in an early-nineties haze, crept up on me like hoarse voice asking for spare change. The drums hung out in the middle of the mix, creeping high sometimes, menacing in the way of sticky dripping lumbering things but also with a crispness. People used to use the word "sludgy" when they talked about Godflesh. This isn't like that. It's something else.
Dark outside, fairly dark in the house, nothing much going on, the rain stopping long enough to show the whole world wet and cold: and just like that, Jesu's nameless album from January 2005 sounds like a record I'll still be listening to years from now, or like an album I'd want to have with me if I were exiled to Novosibirsk. What point in criticism at all, I wondered, if you have to carry something with you through changes of weather before you can really know what it's all about? If it's winter where you are, anyhow, and you haven't heard the Jesu album, give it a shot. It gives off this endless drawn-out death of a thousand frozen pauses vibe. You may find, as I did, that it fits the season.
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