Jazzanova | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper


Sonar Kollectiv

Don't you love living in the future? Remember when people in Berlin probably didn't even know Philadelphia existed? Nowadays, in this tech-shrunken world, Berlin and Philadelphia are less than 14 miles apart -- that's only 22.5 kilometers, for our friends in wicked-East Philly.


German future-jazz production squadron Jazzanova has long been known for its remix antics, breaking the living shit out of beats for everybody from U.K. garage king MJ Cole to spoken-word diva Ursula Rucker to like-minded Northern European jazz heads like Nuspirit Helsinki and Koop. (Ooh -- excellent money-dropping opportunity: The Remixes: 1997-2000, on !K7/Compost, is one of the best buys out there.) Two years back, Jazzanova proved its collective hand capable, if not necessarily genius, at self-production with In Between, a more-than-decent set of nü-standards and neck-rocking beats.


As deejays, Jazzanova's six* members don't show the taste-diversity and pure technical skill of, say, a Bugz in the Attic or 4Hero. But don't expect Kraftwerk, either: This is serious Philly future-soul and East London jazz, the deejay-mix that has truly inherited the spirit of Cameo, codpiece and all. (Codpiece rockers: Attica Blues' deep-yet-hilarious "The Quest"; the Afro-house classic "Uzoamaka" pasted on top of Jazzanova's own "Glow and Glare"; Sirius Mo's "U-Again," probably the most explosive mix of Cameo-style funk-soul ever wedded to a baseball-bat-broken beat. These all require codpieces. These all kick you where it hurts.)


To "get it," just listen to Attica Blues' "The Quest," on which an almost over-the-top German accent searches, through slam-style poetry, "has anybody seen faith, beauty, and hip hop? I've got to find faith, beauty ... and hip hop." Its chilled beats and laid-back proclamations ("Answer me you T.S. Eliots in goose-down jackets with your felt-tip urban hieroglyphs ... all you angels in Adidas") make the perfect break, bringing the dance floor down before raising it back up through the proper snare-drum jazz of Deyampert's "Held Him First."


To those who decry the deejay-mix album as mere Banana Republic, chain-store clubbing, well -- yeah, I guess you're right. But so what? If you or anyone you know has access to a high-speed Internet connection, every song on this planet is available to you at all times. The talent, the beauty, is in their situation, their positioning -- and not too many people place records onto turntables with quite the subtle flair and post-urban finesse of these six* Krauts. If it's skillz and bling you want, look elsewhere. If it's Phuture-Philly melded to a wacked-out 4/4 and tinny little synth riffs, man -- look no further.


(*Reference note: I don't buy this. In the photos, there're always 40,000 of them. But their label swears it's six.)



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