Norwegian jazz group Jaga Jazzist releases song and music video for “Tomita”, the latest single off the band’s upcoming LP Pyramid out August 9, via Brainfeeder Records.
The youngest of three siblings who started Jaga Jazzist in 1994 in the small town of Tønsburg when he was just 14, Lars Horntveth has gradually emerged as Jaga’s primary compositional voice. Lars, brother Martin, and sister Line all demonstrated an interest in in the avant-garde. All bandleaders, producers, engineers, and/or busy session musicians, Jaga’s members have always been at the heart of Norway’s vibrant music scene. All the more remarkable, then, that five of its current eight members remain from its early days, with Even Ormestad and Andreas Mjøs still here alongside the Horntveth siblings.
The band released their debut “Grete Stitz” in 1996. “We got attention because Jaga was such a bizarre group and Grete Stitz was a very strange album,” says Lars. “We started playing more shows in Oslo, mostly in small clubs; then we signed to the dBut label and recorded the Magazine EP, releasing it in 1998.” While the 28-minute, four-track Magazine was no less eclectic than Grete Stitz, it was where Jaga’s voice began to emerge more fully, with Lars’ writing facilitating its textural breadth, long-form cinematic complexities, intrinsic lyricism and rampant multi-instrumentalism.
A nod to the famous Japanese synth savant, Isao Tomita, “Tomita” features all the Jaga essentials: a chill guitar intro, driving jazz percussion, and sprawling melodies fit for an action movie soundtrack. The accompanying music video is just as captivating, animated and directed by Jengo. Set in an empty desert, a shadowy character runs to reach their final destination: a pyramid. Things get trippy once they finally reach their journey’s end. As they reach the structure, the beat bottoms out and the synths soar skyward, matching the pyramid as it dissolves and floats into outer space.
Pyramid is Jaga Jazzist’s first self-produced album (most of their records are produced by close collaborator, Jørgen Træen) and it meant a change in operations. On the one hand, there were lots of different voices jostling to be heard. On the other, they didn’t have an independent figure to make a call on whether something was a good idea. “It was hard but felt natural to do ourselves, as five of us are producers and make records for a living,” Martin says. The result is an album that feels more collaborative than ever.
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