Degree Zero: Untitled 170524

It would be a dream to get the vox-only stems of Jaala’s latest album. Her shrieks and shouts and tempo changes and overall chaotic vocal beauty would be used extensively.

You can listen to it here on Bandcamp.

I’m pretty happy with what I was able to eek out of Jaala’s “Junior Spirit” (the lead vocals for the track), Motion Graphics’ “Vistabrick” (which produces that great echo-y crack and bass beat), and a small smattering of Death Grips’ “Anne Bonny”, the 160BPM heart of the track, providing a driving foundation for the slowed pace of the other parts.

Jaala’s voice is beautiful: seductive and rough; high-pitched but with the subdued energy of an alto. It’s not easy to extract some vocals from her tracks what with the band’s usual frenetic guitars and drums. But “Spirit” has some isolated vocals, and luckily it’s one of my favorite singles. I jumped on the chance to cut her voice up into something so different – to insert her voice into the universe of Motion Graphics.

I’m not good at mixing – it sounds terrible on portable laptop speakers and barely sounds together on better headphones. However, I still feel the “justification”: Jaala’s voice may not belong on a dance album, but is at home as a red-hot knife searing through ambient electronics. It would be a dream to get the vox-only stems of Jaala’s latest album, Hard Hold. Her shrieks and shouts and tempo changes and overall chaotic vocal beauty would be used extensively.

For You: Jaala – Hard Hold

For You: Jaala – Hard Hold

Jaala - Hard Hold Album Cover

Dear Sarah,

I think twice I sent you “Double Dutch” in the monthly playlists I would construct. Actually, I think it was “Junior Spirit”, which actually came out as a single the year after Hard Hold came out. But the core of each track is the same: this tension and release dance of jerking motions and smooth relaxations. The single was mixed to focus on Jaala’s vocals, but the album tends to be more egalitarian in representing the qualities of the band itself.

The percussion, neo-soul or whatever, makes each track as unpredictable as the last. And yeah, I don’t think you actually ever liked Hiatus Kaiyote after all the times I played it in Seattle, but I think Jaala strikes at the same experimental-popism, but in a much more raw form. (I’ll have to recommend to you Xenia Rubinos soon enough. I probably already added that to a playlist of yours sometime.)

But listening to this album, do you feel the “nimbleness”, the flexibility where the song is an amalgamation of these small little tempo changes and flourishes that would just make that dancing body scramble to adapt to whatever changes are deemed welcome or necessary by the band? It’s a controlled chaos that never seems to take a misstep. It’s just really cool.

Also, Jaala’s voice: this weird mix of baby talk and Australianisms that stand on a tight wire between punk and 50s crooning. Her (zey?) voice gives 80% of the personality to the tracks, but I’d say the technicalities without the voice would already make the album a winner. There is a proud creepiness to Jaala, and I hope that uncomfortability settles into you just as it did me.

Love,
Aleks.

On Apple Music