jesu everyday i get closer to the light from which i came

jesu

Finally, the return of the prodigal son… the gifted sonic alchemist that is Justin K. Broadrick. The many entities that Broadrick has lent his more than formidable powers to over the years reads like a CV that many musicians would kill for. From Final and Techno Animal through to Ice, J2, Fall of Because, Head of David, Napalm Death and, of course, the almighty Godflesh… the deft touch of power, melody and sheer brute force of his writing has graced, touched and abraded the ears of those who have followed Broadrick’s career trajectory.

Jesu, as you all know by now, was the main project post-Godflesh, where the origins and inspirations have been well documented elsewhere. Along the way, via the discography… from the primal and crushing nihilism of the ‘Heart Ache’ EP, and the melancholic revelation that was the self-titled debut, the distillation of anger has been evident throughout the series of releases. Over time, the melancholic and emotive aspects of Jesu has been pushed to the forefront… and now, with the recent resurrection of Godflesh as a live and recording entity, we find a clear division between the two.

In any case, the leaching of the harsher elements from Jesu back into Godflesh (one would assume) works on a whole new level, as ‘Everyday…’ hammers the point home that the melancholic aspects of Jesu is a path that deserves to be pursued even further. Stark, naked and full of longing, this album is truly a fantastic display of sheer joy… uplifting and emotional in parts… but, never losing sight of the origins or legacy it stems from.

From the opening track, ‘Homesick’, the pace is set. The driving rhythms and repetitive motif/textures of the clean guitars, in contrast with the (not so overly) grinding guitars is a grandiose statement of intent. If one was to simply close their eyes whilst listening, one could easily assume that this is a somewhat ‘poppy’ oriented sound… albeit, put through the Jesu matrix and spat out. Still, the emotional bent is intact and truly stunning. The plaintive vocals, clean, simple and placid, are complimentary… lending an atmosphere of longing and introspection.

The following track, ‘Comforter’, is an amazing display of ambiance, melody and grand experimentation. Piano melodies, acoustics, swirling ambient synths and a myriad of voices create an atmosphere that one would find on something by the indie group Red House Painters, which, to my ears is a great point of reference. Over the course of the track, pulsing drums, jarring guitars, and introspective, delayed vocals clearly belies the point of comparison mentioned. When the heavy riffing comes in, it slots in neatly with the melodies and groundwork already laid out… everything gels upon this track and makes for captivating listening.

‘Everyday’ follows on from this… and again, we have more of the same melodic sensibilities… as one progresses through the album, we get a sense that the tunes are getting more and more stark and minimal, in the case of ‘Everyday’, it is quite apparent; stripped to utter simplicity, whilst retaining the avant-ish approach of the prior tunes, one can only assume that something far greater is in motion and will be revealed.

In this instance, the epic following track, ‘The Great Leveller’ is exactly that. The opening seconds reveal a foundation of sorrowful strings and piano, lending an ambiance merely hinted at with the album’s initial start. Militaristic or martial drums pepper the composition with the right nous and feel for the unfolding of what will surely come. Clean guitars and soaring melodies accent the current pace before… the crushing riffs that take place at 04:24 hammer the sensibilities into the base of your skull. The sustained and melancholic vocals accenting the riffs really stand out, and reveals more of the sorrows or the impassioned approach that Broadrick has chosen to pursue. At just over 17 minutes in length, ‘The Great Leveller’ is a an amazing centrepiece for this album… harshness and beauty all combined into a cohesive whole; a state of grace that, despite the prior releases, coalesces into a truly alchemical moment. When the track moves towards the end, layers are stripped back, creating a mournful lamentation, striking a chord within the listener before yet another crushing riff returns around the 13 minute mark, swelling with synths and those vocals of longing. A sublime display…

When the final track, the instrumental ‘Grey Is the Colour’ eakes forth, dissonant synth passages disorients you before the jangling guitars and pounding rhythms lead you into moments of reflection, with swelling discordance subtly ebbing and flowing, entrancing the listener with shifts of melody. As a coda to the previous epic, one finds this to be a complimentary tact after what has aurally assailed the listener previously.

In conclusion, the latest opus of Jesu is a fine work of aural art. As noted earlier, the division between Jesu and Godflesh is now clearly apparent, and the two hemispheres of Broadrick’s creative mindset is revealed for all to see. One can only anticipate what the new Godflesh material will sound like, since the harshness of all prior Jesu material has been distilled to an essence of nakedness and sorrow. If this is the manner of execution for future Jesu releases, then ‘Everyday I Get Closer To the Light From Which I Came’ is the template and yardstick by which all else that follows in the name of Jesu will be surely measured. Sublime, and a majestic album… quintessential.

– Mik Annetts

JESU
Avalanche
24 september 2013

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