Jaggery: Private Violence
The primal qualities of humanity are often worn just below the surface of “normalized” society. We can sense them there beneath our civilized skin; the desire to dominate with self-righteous fury and to obey our every lustful impulse. Inherently it would seem we are all just avatars of violence, a truth that is difficult to avoid and impossible to eliminate. On their newest EP, Private Violence, Jaggery seeks to confront the essential dichotomy of inherent human violence and the abhorrence we have for it in ourselves.
Largely written as a reflection of Truman Capote’s eerie and celebrated In Cold Blood, Private Violence is at once fascinating and unsettling, a beautiful beast as it were. Rather than simply conceptualizing the novel’s narrative, Jaggery transcends inspiration by producing a similarly powerful examination of the dark half of human consciousness.
The album’s opener “Trouble” gathers itself slowly together with hissing violins, subtle piano notes, and singer Mali’s distinctly powerful and emotive vocals. The drums are incredibly potent, lifting the track into an epic refrain. The striking lyrics recount the singer’s experience with In Cold Blood and her own parallels with its content. The analogous mentions of murder and bulimia are especially startling and supply a genuine vulnerability.
The second movement “Hostage Heart” returns to the mission of confronting our violent essence. The question is asked of what terrible things we are capable of, and how to deal with the answers we get from ourselves. This song also seems to serve as a bridge from Mali’s lyrical explorations to Capote’s characterizations of the facts.
The central movement, “No Sympathy” is one of my favorites on the album. At times incredibly sexy, the song maintains the mood of the previous tracks but throws in a jagged waltzing rhythm that explodes suitably with a dark piano line and Mali’s sultry menace. The true spark of this particular performance must be in Daniel Schubmehl’s drumming. While the tempo and time never change, he finds a myriad of percussive expressions that turn an otherwise simple drum part into a musical experience in and of itself.
The final movement of the album spans the last two tracks, “Oh My God” and “End Song”. The former develops with a maddeningly deliberate apprehension, recounting reactions to a man swinging the gallows. The guilt and revolt detailed here is of the witnesses to this man’s condemnation and the meaning of a civilization seeking death to supplant death. The outro of “Oh My God” moves directly into “End Song” and becomes something almost indescribably gorgeous. All of the lush instrumentation Jaggery has to offer comes into play as the piano and bass flirt with the harp while the violin sulks in the shadows and the drums caresses the listener gently. The only fault in this track is that it ends far too soon, leaving you yearning for another journey into its womb of aural comfort, a place full of warmth and free from mortal considerations.
The entirety of Private Violence spans only five tracks over 25 minutes, but taken as a whole it is a musical revelation. The themes explored in Jaggery’s incredible lyricism and its wondrous musicianship are timeless and essential. Whether this be your first foray into the world of darkjazz or you are a veteran of its alluring macabre intensity, you owe it to yourself to immerse yourself in this album.
MP3: Jaggery “No Sympathy”