As a paean to those lost at sea, JuJu is by turns a sad and foreboding work. While angry and disappointed in tone, the album bristles with a post-punk vigour and a probing questioning nature which means the music contained within may be oppressive, but never depressive. In fact, the album builds to a surprisingly resolute climax of some the darkest dance music you’ll ever hear.
The mission statement:
JuJu tells the story of an ongoing exodus that more often than not ends in ‘a total defeat for humanity.’ JuJu strives to turn that defeat into a celebration of spirit and modern psychedelia.
An endless thought to the forgotten of the sea. We Are You.
The Sicilian Gioele Valenti, aka JuJu, handles the Mediterranean exodus tragedy in a powerful work. Drawing on the music of the like of Joy Division and Neu! and maybe the psychedelic protest music of recent Julian Cope, he breathes visceral life into his topic.
‘Samael’ launches with a huge bass driven number, pitching John Cale’s ‘Hush’ with the holy anger of The Birthday Party and icy dance floor grooves such as Section 25’s ‘Beneath The Blade’. The evil groove permeates.
‘We Spit On yer Grave’ has a guitar driven decaying dance shimmer that is straight from New Order’s debut Movement, recast with the sunglasses indoors confidence of The Jesus & Mary Chain.
‘Stars and Sea’ glistens, an acoustic song seen through wisps of psychedelia. Then after 4 minutes the whole lot erupts into a punishing motorik groove machine. This is later carried on with ‘Sunrise Ocean’, which sees the irrepressible 4/4 pushing relentlessly on, on, on.
‘Dance With The Fish’: echoing, lonely piano with a lush artificial sunset, reminiscent of the Inspiral Carpets’ ‘Dreams Are We Have’, to provide us with a sad, reflective intermission.
The thematic centrepiece, ‘Lost At Sea’ starts equally sad but striding guitars and ready-for-war drums slowly encroach on the horizon like warships. Then battle comes down and yet another sweet-as motorik groove is on us. Insistent and nagging, the repetition of the piano and the bass produce a hypno-swell that dislodges us from time and place. Fat buzzing guitar. Currents converge. We become submerged, as JuJu intends.
Incredibly, ‘Lost At Sea’ isn’t the closer, leaving that duty to ‘Bring ‘Em War’, which manages to be just as epic as the title suggests. A monotone bass shuffle. Stark stabs of guitar in the dark. Lyrics are repeated. All is repeated. A monotone bass shuffle. Stark stabs of guitar in the dark. Lyrics are repeated. All is repeated. A monotone bass shuffle. Stark stabs of guitar in the dark. Lyrics are repeated. All is repeated. Then the song lurches into a death disco, shamanic midnight shindig. Tribal rave. Soul militarised. Funk atomised.
The two tracks that ends JuJu are fucking intense and fucking righteous. 16 minutes of the harshest dance music that you leaves you reeling, shell-shocked and punch drunk, spent and exhausted.
There are no conclusion in life and death. JuJu resonates to bring us a vital, pulsating work.