Words by Brian Salvatore

2016 is shaping up to be the year of the collaborative album – Iggy and Homme, Claypool and Lennon, and it all starts with Kozalek and Broadrick. Jesu, aka Jason Broadrick, and Sun Kil Moon, aka Mark Kozalek, have made a record together that attempts to meld the sonic intensity of Jesu’s unrelenting barrage of guitars and Sun Kil Moon’s introspective lyrics and confessional storytelling.

On a purely elemental level, the record succeeds, as it is both incredibly personal and sonically bold. Kozalek, over the past few years, has turned himself into a writer more concerned with telling a linear story than crafting a melody, and this album is almost entirely devoid of anything even close to being a hook. Hell, there’s barely a chorus anywhere on the album.

What makes Jesu enjoyable is that you are able to get in an almost hypnotic state from the repetetive, almost tribal nature of the music. It is heavy, but it is steady, and so it gets inside you and allows you to get lost in it. Kozalek’s lyrics don’t allow that in the slightest. With every word, Kozalek is trying to pull you in, and share something real with you. While I appreciate the gesture, it is at odds with what Broadrick is trying to do instrumentally.

It doesn’t help that the songs are incredibly insular, and not in a way that allows the listener to attach their own meaning to it. “Fragile” is about both Kozalek’s friend Chris and Chris Squire from Yes – there’s not much you can do with that, unless you have an affinity for Yes, or you have a friend that reminds you of Chris. But again, this isn’t just standard friendship stuff – this is confessional, intense memories. Kozalek is one of the most introspective songwriters I can think of, but this album is looking so inward that his head is, more or less, firmly up his own ass. When you’re name-checking yourself in the title of a song and reading fan letters into microphones, you may want to pull back the focus a little bit.

I admire these two approaches on their own, and I wish they worked well together, because the idea of music that is as intense instrumentally as it is lyrically is a wonderful concept. But at the end of a few listens, while I appreciate the work, and respect the craft that went into it, I have almost nothing to say about the album other than that ultimately, it is a boring record. Too busy to be meditative, too lethargic to be excited, too myopic to be relatable, too banal to be interesting – this is the first great missed opportunity of 2016.

Jesu/Sun Kil Moon
‘Jesu/Sun Kil Moon’
Cadlo Verde Records
© January 15th, 2016


TheWaster.com | #2016