J2 is the result of Justin Broadrick and Jarboe being stripped and filtered out into their purest forms; an exhibition of their respective artistic perceptions, and a demonstration of the musical connection between them. With both musicians sharing a strong affiliation with self-expression, as well as boasting a colossal impact on the industrial genre with Godflesh and Swans, it’s surprising that they haven’t put their reclusive heads together up until now.
Considering the direction these artists have taken with other projects, first track “Decay” is fairly unexpected. Jarboe’s disconcerting falsetto loop opens the piece, and is gradually swallowed up by Broadrick’s rising tide of dissonance over the course of seven minutes. As with the other compositions on J2, it’s not until the third or fourth listen that you begin to “get” the appeal here. And although you may not be able to instantly empathize with what’s being created, it’s a joy to know that, in amongst the recent infatuation with the melodic, neither of these musicians are afraid to exorcise the industrial menaces of their past. Judging by the end result here, it was certainly a good move to do so.
Yet aside from this brief exploration into common ground, the remaining tracks on J2 give the strong impression that Jarboe and Broadrick need their own creative space in order to produce anything of worth. This is something particularly noticeable in the production; a majority of the time, the dry, overpowering vocals hover awkwardly over the music as opposed to striking up a connection. It’s the sound of a very tentative embrace of two introverts, each unwilling to conform their sonic persona enough to collaborate properly, and it ends up being J2’s major downfall.
That’s not to say that a fair amount of enjoyment can’t be drawn out of this release. Jarboe delivers her highlight performance on “Magick Girl”; a two-note repeated lyric drenched in desperate melancholy, crying out above a crushing dose of tension-through-monotony, with a synth bassline and programmed beat pushing the piece forward. The effect of vocal simplicity like this is astounding – why she feels the need to resort to the painfully forced vibrato tacked on to tracks such as the closing "8mmsweetbitter” is completely beyond me.
All in all, J2 certainly isn’t the glorious record it could have been. Although it’s fascinating to see the fragility of these experimental pioneers thrust into the spotlight (particularly because it gives way to some of Broadrick’s most immersive melodies to date), it feels as though Jarboe and Justin are slightly uncomfortable forcing their creative minds into one. Perhaps not the collaboration people will be hoping for, but it’s an album that offers up enough to hold your intrigue for a few listens at least, as well as keeping the reputation of both artists just about intact.
(Taken from here)
[ The End / 2008 / Avantgarde/Experimental/Ambient / VBR ]
01. Decay (07:31)
02. Let Go (06:27)
03. Magick Girl (08:41)
04. Romp (05:13)
05. Tribal Limo (07:16)
06. 8mmsweetbitter (06:00)