For nearly twenty years, the name of Justin Broadrick has been synonymous, within the musical underground, with innovation and tireless energy. Accordingly, the body of work which issues forth from his muse is greedily coveted by those who are privy to its existence. The despairing reaction of his fan base, upon word of (prior project) Godflesh's disbandment, was therefore unsurprising when it came.
Conversely, a proportionate amount of relief came upon word of a newer project, Jesu--- with Justin Broadrick as its mastermind. The first full-length release by Jesu, a self-titled release, has now been available to the public for some time now. The most pertinent question of all, however, is:
Was the wait between the transition from Godflesh to Jesu worthwhile?
In a manner that is consistent with Broadrick's palate, Jesu's self-titled seemingly lies 20,000 hertz below open E, but from the (aptly) selected first track "Your Path to Divinity", Broadrick is quick to mark the ways in which his vision for Jesu contrasts with the work from his Godflesh period.
The standing order is still focused through his honed concept of gigantism, however the textural behemoths he forges with Jesu have acquired a different feel, and a different form. The weight and resonance is clearly present, but think more spherical, in contrast to serrated. Think ebb and flow, versus relentless pounding.
This approach is elaborated in tracks "We All Faulter", "Walk on Water", and "Sun Day", where low-end inertia is molten and stratified against the ringing throb and squelch of the six-string. The musical result swells red with the kind of sound that might make a steamroller duck away--- but the guttural drones are deliberately fashioned to conform with (what is apparently) Broadrick's successful attempt at its fusion with fragile, airy melodies--- all presented within a collective tempo that rarely exceeds 60 bpm throughout the recording.
With the track "Friends Are Evil", one not only finds one of the release's strongest tracks, one (again) is presented with massive grind-sound and spiraling percussion that is bestial and yet frail… weary. A touch past six minutes into the song, in particular, comes a musical stanza of gray, bottom-leaden roar, washed over with neutral, calculated ripples of treble.
Tracks like "Tired of Me" are tinged (albeit in a well disguised manner) with the kind of melody which might be encountered in the most saccharine of pop love ballads--- yet this is an allusion, a hint. Broadrick hints at what lies submerged throughout the entire recording. There is a distinct current of melody living in the cracks of the sonic bedrock he so effectively created. One must dig and sift, but one inevitably makes the discovery amidst the hypnotic swelling and recession of the music.
Track seven, "Man/Woman", seamlessly bridges a link between the corpus of Broadrick's work with Godflesh, and his new efforts with Jesu, and will likely be a favorite track with longtime listeners who have followed his work from past to present.
With Jesu, Justin Broadrick has demonstrated that his new project hardly marks a return to his creative form.
It demonstrates that it has been there all along.
One of this year's best, unquestionably.