Monkey by JMZM

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JMZM | Monkey
self-released (DL)

Josip Maršić and Zoran Medved are the Croatian duo better known as JMZM who have been at it just over a decade and their hard work is paying off. Their latest Monkey – comprised of two lengthy pieces – is startlingly evocative, as demonstrated by the twenty-five minute long title track. At first it seems as if they are about to jam, but the percussion is more a tease – especially given the wink of psychedelia in the colorful cover-art by Dodot. The music follows suit, in that it is slippery and unexpected.

The sparse piano trills integrate well with the echo effects and rat-a-tat. And the duo never slouches, even when they go long with the addition of sax and other elements provided by an additional trio they have brought in to fuel the depths:

Rajko Ergić – Hi-Hat
Denis Razumović Razz – Saxophone, flute
Ana Kučan Jakšić – Voice

This is a futuristic jazz of sorts, an inspired, harmonic play on un/consciousness. The atmosphere is lively yet somewhat lugubrious at the right moments, between built crescendos and other thrilling passages.  They have a grip, a serious pulse, and are unafraid to develop dramatic flourishes that are honest and endearing without any common tropes. The ear can most definitely appreciate the pastiche of it all. When they do, in fact, veer into the more jazzy side of focused solos, the playing sounds great, but I’m taken out of the earnest restraint and conceptual basis of the general goings-on. The artistic snapshot starts to move too close to common – yet, they manage to recover, and this seems to be a repeated process. The rub – are they ‘monkeying’ with us?

Then comes Interstellar Jerk. Here a much restrained and wavering ambient pattern offers a melodic, floating atmosphere that is elongated, shimmering like light and shadow. There’s this sense of urgency in what duly replicates an underwater scope that loops in murmuring rumble. Eventually the cadences soar a little bit and brighter, but drift gingerly back to the surface. The track offers the gentler side of these smart musicians as they take us on a softened journey of the senses.

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