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Jaga Jazzist: Starfire

If Return to Forever in their chopsiest, synth-heaviest incarnation had continued evolving into the age of electronic dance music, they’d sound much like Norway’s Jaga Jazzist. Even their newest album’s title, Starfire, suggests RTF and their ilk. But on their seventh full-length, the chops and synths are really Jaga Jazzist’s only remaining connection to jazz. The rest is a series of multilayered vamps, mesmerizing in their way but also mind-numbing.

Like much dance music, Starfire‘s melodies are all but nonexistent. The title track is a panoply of drones, riffs and obbligati; even the breaks on “Big City Music” are collages of recycled motif. And there is certainly little to no improvisation. The harmonies embrace convention; the rhythms are insistent and deceptively simple. (Drummer Martin Horntveth loves flash, but his sixteenth notes on “Oban” merely obscure a backbeat.)

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